The next step up
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When JD Reive first accepted the head coaching job for the University of Iowa men's gymnastics team, his first task was as arduous as the team was ambitious; change the culture and expectations of a program that had fallen on hard times. After two years of tireless work, the Hawkeyes are on the verge of meeting that goal.
Iowa enters the 2012-13 season with a sense of excitement from a talented lineup, a new mentality, and goals that are higher than any other team has set during Reive's tenure.
"This is the transition that we have been waiting for," says Reive. "We've been waiting for a group of kids who are ready to change Iowa gymnastics, put us back on the map, and to be on top of the podium. This is a team that realizes that, and is ready to go out and do it. We're all very excited about the expectations this season."
In his first two seasons, Reive implemented a new training regimen and a new vision for Iowa gymnastics. The process was challenging for both the gymnasts and coaches, but all the progress is close to paying off.
Iowa enters the season with 13 letter winners, and a deep and talented freshman class. The blend of the team consists of gymnasts with different experience levels and specialties, but the same goals.
"The goals that the team set this year are the exact same as mine, which is phenomenal," says Reive. "They want to be a top-three Big Ten team and a team that advances to the team finals of the NCAA Championships. It's something that they need to work very hard to achieve, but it's doable, and they really want it."
The Hawkeyes will be led by a senior class in which Reive sees a number of potential All-Americans, including Javier Balboa, Anton Gryshayev, Matt McGrath, and Brody Shemansky. Shemansky returns from a first team All-Big Ten campaign last year, while McGrath was an All-American in vault in 2010 and could reach the same accolades on vault and floor exercise this year. Balboa is an all-arounder that can contend in multiple events, and Gryshayevis the top-performer Iowa has arguably ever had on rings.
Senior Todd Becker and juniors Lance Alberhasky, Angelo Bronzino, and Jack McClay round out the upperclassmen that are expected to lead the team.
"The upperclassmen have made a lot of strides from last season to now in terms of work ethic, commitment, and discipline to their training," says Reive. "It's nice for me to look across the board as they keep improving and say, 'Wow, these guys are going to put up some big scores.'"
While Iowa relied heavily on its proven upperclassmen in past years, this year's upperclassmen are being pushed by the newcomers. The Hawkeyes have 12 underclassmen—seven freshmen—that have added depth to the lineup.
"We have a big group of younger guys that are holding their weight and doing a lot of good things for us," says Reive. "They've added depth to the team, and right now, they are a big driving force in the gym."
The Hawkeyes kick off the season with the Black and Gold Intrasquad on Sunday, Dec. 2 with both the men's and women's teams competing. Start time is set for 2 p.m.