By Taylor McNitt
Feb. 10 was rough for Iowa gymnastics.
While the women stayed home to host No. 8 Nebraska and a record-breaking crowd of fans, the men traveled to Norman, Oklahoma, to take on the top-ranked Sooners. Both fell to their opponents.
The men started out strong on pommel horse, which is typically their best event. Making it better was the season-high team score of 67.850. Senior Austin Hodges won the event title for Iowa with his score, 14.350.
Things started to fall apart on the floor, however — also typical for Iowa this season. Floor isn’t a strong event for the Hawkeyes, and that stung the score against Oklahoma, which is nationally ranked at No. 7 for the event.
The vault proved to be a high-scoring event for the Hawkeyes; Iowa’s lowest individual vault score was 13.950. Iowa notched a season-high score of 70.200 for the event. This, however, ended up being futile against the Sooners, whose top three individual scores were the top three scores between both teams for the event.
Rings further unraveled Iowa’s score. Junior Jake Brodarzon posted the highest score for the Hawkeyes, 13.700, but four of the Sooners’ five factored scores were higher, widening the gap between the teams even more.
Hodges’ 13.900 on the high bar was the Hawkeye highlight for the event. Unfortunately, two of Oklahoma’s gymnasts still managed to outscore him.
Parallel bars proved to be rough for the Hawkeyes. Senior Dylan Ellsworth’s score was the highest Hawkeye score, but four of Oklahoma’s gymnasts outscored him.
With the meet concluded, freshman Bennet Huang posted the highest All-Around score, claiming that title over the Sooners. The final match score was 418.850-402.850; despite the even 16-point difference between the two teams, Iowa’s final team score was a season-high.
“It’s nice to come home from a long trip with an all-around and event winner,” said the men’s gymnastics head coach JD Reive. “Confidence seems to be the missing ingredient, which is even more important now that we will be in a five-up, five-count format for the rest of the season. The team is ready to get back in the gym and make some significant changes for our home meet in two weeks.”
Confidence isn’t a problem unique to the men’s team. The women also struggled after scores started out lower than they’d expected during the meet against Nebraska.
“[Feb. 10] was kind of an emotional roller coaster,” head coach Larissa Libby said. “It’s deflating when you start out the competition lower than you expected; those were some of the best vaults we’ve done all year. I thought that we did a good enough job tonight that it would have been reflected in the score, but it just wasn’t there.”
This clearly disheartened the GymHawks and made it more difficult for the team to keep up with Nebraska.
Despite this, the GymHawks rallied on the beam and came within grasp of victory. It seemed tantalizingly close when the Huskers opened the door by recording a fall on beam, but then that door closed as Iowa recorded two falls on the floor.
“What did I learn from Nebraska? That it’s never over until it’s over,” said Libby. “They’re a very intense team; they stay very focused on themselves. It’s just never truly over until the last kid goes. I’m proud of the fight our team showed today.”