Iowa Alumni Magazine | February 2006 | People

Small But Mighty: Michael Reavis

By Shelbi Thomas

Michael Reavis rises on his toes, pauses for a second, and then thunders across the gymnasium floor. Flip, spring, twist. The crowd erupts into applause and the Hawkeye senior walks away as the 2005 NCAA vault champion.

Nearly two decades of practice went into those nine seconds of glory. For Reavis, though, it was time and effort well spent—not just in terms of the personal triumph but, more importantly, for what the honor means to his fellow Hawkeyes.

"In club gymnastics, it's every guy for himself," he explains. "College gymnastics has taught me how to work in a team."

The Hawkeye squad ended last year's season with many noteworthy accomplishments—the national vault championship and a Big Ten floor exercise title for Reavis, several record-breaking individual and team performances, and a seventh-place national ranking. Iowa's hosting the Big Ten championships next month and, if all goes well, perhaps the team will advance to the NCAA finals.

Reavis can also look forward to an exciting year in terms of personal achievements. The Tallahassee, Florida, native is competing for the Nissen-Emery—known as the Heisman Trophy of gymnastics—and appears on Inside Gymnastics' "hot list" of top 2008 U.S. Olympic team contenders.

Last summer, he trained 35 hours a week with many of his competitors at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, which led to an all-around tenth place finish in the U.S. Championships.

Whether or not he goes for Olympic gold, Reavis would like to continue with his sport at least for a while after graduation—perhaps with Cirque du Soleil or a similar performance group. That's if his body is up to it. Reavis's fluid grace disguises the enormous physical effort involved when he swings from the high bar, muscles through a rings routine, or explodes into a rapid series of tumbles and leaps.

"After this season, I'll see how my body does and how I'm feeling mentally about my sport," he says. "Then I'll decide."