February 2018

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Page 168 of 174

169 B ennet Huang and JD Reive's relationship began more than a decade ago in California. at connection was key in getting Huang to join the men's gymnastics program at the University of Iowa. Reive was an assistant men's gymnastics coach at Stanford when he first met Huang. Huang's youth program worked out at the Cardinal's training facility. "He was incredible as a little kid," said Reive, who is in his eighth season as Iowa's head coach. "When he joined us, you knew immediately (how good he was). He was good at a level five when he was six or seven years old and you saw that type A drive, the family was on board and they had that same drive. "I foresaw where he was going to go, but you never know. Ten years go by and I watched him mature, make Junior National Teams, and start competing internationally." Huang went on to become an accomplished junior gymnast. He was a five-time Junior National Team member and a seven-time Northern California All-Around champion. He won all-around, floor, and pommel horse at the 2017 JO Nationals and was the floor champion and runner-up on the all- around at the 2016 P&G Championships. Huang remembers his first state title as a 7-year- old. "e previous year I had done poorly to my standards," said Huang. "I wasn't terrible, but winning my first state championship was a big deal. It made me happy and made me want to train harder." When Reive le Stanford to become head coach at the University of Iowa following the 2010 season, he kept tabs on Huang. When it came time to ramp up Huang's recruitment, Reive had a card in his back pocket. "He's someone I had such a connection with as a kid, I watched his entire career," said Reive. "When it came time to recruit him, it was motivating to say, 'Alright, this is a big opportunity for us to bring him to Iowa, get him to leave California, and be a part of our program.' "It was a natural fit. We had a joke that his mom spent so much time raising my kid because I spent so much time with hers. We spent so much time with her family that it was nice for her to be sending him off to us, knowing we are caring for him (at Iowa) and helping him move into the professional phase of what he is doing." Huang is Reive's highest-ranked Iowa recruit. He had to fend off perennial California powers Stanford and California-Berkeley, while convincing Huang to venture to the Midwest. "I was looking at some other schools and I took recruiting trips to other schools, but once I came (to Iowa), it felt welcoming," said Huang. "I felt like it was a supportive environment. "I knew what (JD's) training method was and I liked it. I liked the facilities and staff being supportive of both sides of my life in gymnastics and academics." Academics played a big role in Huang's decision. He is majoring in music performance as he is an accomplished musician on the cello. "He is probably a better musician than a gymnast and that's saying quite a bit," said Reive. Huang started playing cello at 8-years-old. e training go hand-in-hand. "e training and practicing is very methodical in both aspects," said Huang. "Going out and (playing cello) on the spot under pressure is something you learn with experience."

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