The eighth-ranked Iowa men’s gymnastics team defied the odds April 8, finishing third in its group and earning its way into the team finals at the NCAA Championships.
The Hawks upended No. 5 Illinois and slipped into the top three with a final score of 435.050.
Illinois scored a disappointing 432.450 and was doomed by a low score of 68.700 on the pommel horse. Iowa scored 71. 400, led by Doug Sullivan’s 14.950, tied for third.
The Hawks also posted the group’s second-best score on the rings with a 74.350. Four of the Hawk five gymnasts performed 15.000-plus routines.
No. 1 Oklahoma unsurprisingly dominated the group, posting a final of 450.750. No. 4 Michigan finished in second with 437.000.
On April 11, the top-three teams from the two qualifying groups competed for the team finals.
The Sooners, Wolverines, and Hawkeyes will join No. 2 Stanford, No. 3 Penn State, and No. 7 California in a battle of the nation’s top six teams.
Iowa hung in with Michigan April 11 through five rotations, which bodes well for them April 12. But they will likely fight it out with California for fifth place; the Bears are the only team whose season averages are close to the Hawks relative to the other top teams.
But the same could have been said for Illinois, and the Hawkeyes put on perhaps their best performance of the season to shock the Illini.
The team finished in fifth two seasons ago; that season they entered as the 11th seed.