By Taylor McNitt
Going into the weekend, both Iowa gymnastics teams were riding high scores and higher spirits. After ending their regular seasons as unpredicted victors, facing many of the same opponents, they expected to stay on top.
But those expectations led to disappointment.
The men competed over the weekend in the Big Ten Championships in Ann Arbor, Michigan, finishing seventh of seven squads. Illinois took the meet with a score of 413.900; Iowa trailed at 398.550.
“Results aside, they actually performed pretty well,” said men’s gymnastics head coach JD Reive. “We didn’t miss too much. We just didn’t get the math we needed to move up the ranks like we should have. The guys that finaled did excellently. They deserve to be in there. There were a lot of brilliant routines, they just weren’t rewarded in the way that they have been or that we expected them to be. The reality was we didn’t have a terrible meet in any means. It was actually a fairly decent meet, but the numbers didn’t line up with the way I thought we performed. I’m proud of what they did.”
Even though the results weren’t quite what Iowa was looking for, the Black and Gold still sent three Hawkeyes to individual finals on the second day of competition.
Three of the four seniors — Austin Hodges, Elijah Parsells, and Dylan Ellsworth — advanced. On April 6, Hodges and Parcells ranked fourth and ninth, respectively, on the pommel horse, and Ellsworth took 10th on vault.
“Tonight was good,” said Ellsworth after the April 6 competition. “I didn’t have my best meet ever, but vault was good.”
That excitement, however, didn’t carry him to the podium. On April 7, Ellsworth tied for eighth on the vault. But in representing Iowa well, he was dubbed Iowa’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honoree.
Parsells didn’t make it onto the podium, either, but Hodges did with a fifth-place finish on pommel horse.
“It still wasn’t the best routine I could do, but I thought it was better than Day 1,” Hodges said. “I got fifth place, which is good for me. I think I’m ranked fifth in the Big Ten, so it’s what was expected. I can still do better at the NCAA Championships, which is important, so I’m saving my best routine for that.”
Even though putting a Hawkeye on the podium is a good thing, the team can’t help feeling a little let down with the results. Despite this, Reive believes he saw a good performance from the team as a whole.
“We went into finals, and we did our job,” he said. “The pommel-horse routines from Elijah and Austin were almost flawless. They did everything that they could do there. Dylan’s was a little off. It wasn’t what we wanted him to do, but that’s finals. Finals are exciting, and we went out and represented incredibly well. It was wonderful gymnastics; I am super proud of them. It was a great way to put an end to this weekend.”
In Minneapolis, the GymHawks were in almost the exact same position. They finished sixth out of the six teams competing in the NCAA Regional.
Even if neither team saw the results the gymnasts had hoped for, they’re looking forward to the NCAA Championships, which are fast approaching.