February 2016

Issue link: http://catalog.e-digitaleditions.com/i/636858

Contents of this Issue


Page 188 of 212

189 F or University of Iowa gymnast Johanny Sotil- lo, the chance to compete in front of Hawk- eye faithful has been a long, difficult journey that began at the 2011 World Championships. "I applied to LSU and they actually had all my paperwork, they were just waiting on test results," said Sotillo. "At that time I went to World Champi- onships and I met the Iowa coaches. Aer talking to them, I decided Iowa would be a better fit for me." Aer making the decision to leave Venezuela and attend the University of Iowa, Sotillo had to sit out her first year. "My first year was hard because I wasn't allowed on the floor, so I had to watch from the stands," said Sotillo. "Get- ting used to a new team and not being on the floor was rough. But the girls were so welcoming and the staff was so nice that I couldn't resist." Sotillo was faced with another obstacle the follow- ing season when she was sidelined by injury. "She had to sit out a year and the first year she could compete she got injured," said UI head coach Larissa Libby. "She was out for that season, so she really only had one year. She made the most of that year and we had the opportunity to bring her back. "Before she got hurt, the only thing she wanted to do was compete for this team. When she finally got the opportunity to compete, she was stellar. You can see it when she competes. e reason I brought her back is because she loves gymnastics and you can absolutely see it." Sotillo made her debut for the Hawkeyes in 2015, where she competed in every meet on bars and beam. e Valencia, Venezuela, native helped Iowa to a season-high score of 196.500 at the Big Ten Championships on March 21 — the team's best championship team result since 2010. Sotillo also helped the Hawkeyes to their seventh postseason berth in the last eight years at the NCAA Auburn Regional. "Something she has talked to our team a lot about is never wasting an opportunity," said Libby. "I think she reflects that. When she is swinging on bars, she is smiling. When she is in the middle of her beam routine she is smiling, because every opportunity that she gets to continue with her sport, she holds on with ev- erything she's got. I love that about her. I will miss her dearly when she is done with this team. I wish I could find another way to keep her." In the first month of competition, Sotillo has earned six top-five finishes and collected an event title on bars and beam. e senior has led the Hawkeyes to their first win at Michigan State since Jan. 7, 2011 and their first win over No. 25 Ohio State since February 6, 2010. "My time at Iowa has been incredible," said Sotillo. "I wouldn't change this experience for the world." FEBRUARY SCHEDULE Feb. 6 Nebraska * Feb. 13 at Illinois * Feb. 20 Towson Feb. 27 at Denver, SE Missouri, Illinois-Chicago

Articles in this issue

view archives of HAWK TALK - February 2016