April 2021

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55 W hen the GymHawks convened for the first time before the 2021 season, head coach Larissa Libby told them this was going to be the year. ey were going to be a team that changed everything. Whenever Libby gets a glimpse of the Big Ten Conference regular-season trophy sitting in Iowa City, Iowa, she knows her words in the preseason were correct. "is whole season was surreal," said Libby, the 2021 Big Ten Coach of the Year. "Our success manifested throughout the year and they believed they were that good. en they kept backing it up time and time again." e GymHawks opened the season with a 196.450 in a loss at No. 11 Minnesota, but it was the start of something special. Iowa followed with a 196.550 in a Week 2 win over Ohio State before hitting 196.800 and 196.775 in consecutive meets against Minnesota and Maryland. e results catapulted the GymHawks to No. 7 in the Road to Nationals rankings — the highest in school history. at momentum continued with a fih straight win before claiming a Big Five Meet title in Ann Arbor, Michigan. e Big Five victory was the program's first road win in Ann Arbor and it clinched the Hawkeyes' first conference title in program history. Iowa posted its season-high of 196.825 in its regular season finale at Nebraska before placing third at the Big Ten Championships with junior Lauren Guerin and sophomore JerQuavia Henderson claiming a share of the floor title. e GymHawks qualified for NCAA Regionals and were sent to the Tuscaloosa (Alabama) NCAA Regional where the team broke another barrier. Iowa posted a 197.050 for a third-place finish. It was the second time in program history the Hawkeyes have broken the 197 mark and the first time since 2004. "e laundry list of accomplishments that this team achieved was incredible," said Libby. "at is a lot to accomplish with one team in one year." e GymHawks were rewarded for their success along the way. A program-record three gymnasts — Guerin, Henderson and freshman Adeline Kenlin — were Women's Collegiate Gymnastics Association All-Americans with Guerin earning first-team honors. Kenlin became the fourth Hawkeye all-time to garner Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors and she was one of four Iowa gymnasts to earn All- Big Ten recognition. Senior Clair Kaji, Henderson and Kenlin were first-team honorees, marking the first time the program has had three first team selections since 2001. e program also had a record nine Big Ten weekly award winners throughout the regular season. At season's end, the GymHawks accounted for four of the top nine team scores in school history and set the program record on floor (49.600). Kenlin (beam) and Henderson (floor) tied individual school records. Libby says the 2021 season wouldn't have been as successful without the three-member senior class consisting of Kaji, Erin Castle and Emma Hartzler. "We would not have made the impact we did without them guiding this team the entire way," said Libby.

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