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GymHawks prevail in close ‘pink meet’ against Iowa State

BY EVELYN LAU | FEBRUARY 17, 2009 7:40 AM

Iowa’s fourth-annual Pink Meet kicked off with rival teams coming together for a common cause. But by evening’s end, the two squads were anything but cordial as they battled in a closely contested competition.

No. 23 Iowa (8-3) narrowly defeated No. 20 Iowa State (0-7), 194.675-194.000. However, the GymHawks were dealt some tough blows — they lost sophomore Kristen Ward to injury during the warm-ups and had gymnasts fall off the beam.

“We’re going to have to go another step deep, and figure out where we can get another routine from, and make sure our team still focuses on each other, injured or not,” Iowa head coach Larissa Libby said.

Iowa State jumped out to an early 48.725-48.550 lead after the first rotation, as the GymHawks kicked off the meet on vault and the Cyclones were on the uneven bars. Iowa sophomore Arielle Sucich got the meet started with a 9.650 vault. Freshman Rachel Corcoran matched that total, and sophomores Houry Gebeshian (9.700) and Rebecca Simbhudas (9.750) put up solid scores.

However, senior Jenifer Simbhudas gave the GymHawks a lift by sticking her landing and scoring a 9.800, good enough for a first-place tie.

As Iowa and Iowa State switched events, solid performances on the uneven bars by the GymHawks closed the gap between the two teams. The Cyclones scored a 48.700 on vault, good enough for the win on the team event. But with Iowa scoring a 48.800 on the uneven bars, the Iowa State lead was trimmed to a mere .075 points. Rebecca Simbhudas’ first-place mark of a 9.825 led the GymHawks.

Heading into the beam, the GymHawks looked to be in trouble when freshman Jessa Hansen and Gebeshian both fell. However, an inspired performance from Brandi Loffer got the team back on track when she scored a 9.750, followed by a 9.850 for Rebecca Simbhudas. The Cyclones, on the other hand, had troubles of their own — gymnasts stepped out of bounds on the floor exercise and they scored a 47.950 in the event.

Waving their pink pom-poms, fans were every bit into the final rotation as Iowa rotated to the floor exercise. Junior Jenny Donar led off by putting up a score of 9.725, a personal season-best. Rebecca Simbhudas had an solid floor routine and scored a 9.800, and Gebeshian had fans on their feet as she completed her routine with a 9.825. Hansen sealed the Iowa victory with a 9.900, a career-best.

Fans showed their appreciation for her effort as they cheered loudly when her score was revealed.
“We’ve been telling her for a long time all she needs to do is stay up,” Libby said. “She’s a beautiful, beautiful gymnast and we anticipated for a long time that she’s capable of scoring a 9.900.”

In the all-around, Rebecca Simbhudas won her first title with an overall score of 39.225. Simbhudas, a replacement for Ward, wasn’t even supposed to compete in the all-around.

“I wasn’t really expecting [to win] because I was supposed to exhibition on floor,” she said. “It was just like a boost for upcoming meets that I could actually hit four-for-four.”


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