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Sports Briefs

BY DI SPORTS STAFF | FEBRUARY 20, 2009 7:34 AM

GymHawks head to Utah

Traveling to Cedar City, Utah, the No. 23 Iowa women’s gymnastics team (8-3, 2-1) will take on Southern Utah (6-3) in a dual meet.

In their last meet, on Feb. 16, the GymHawks defeated Iowa State, 194.675-194.000, in the annual Pink Meet to win the season series for the first time since 1992.

Sophomore Rebecca Simbhudas won her first collegiate all-around title with a score of 39.225. She was a replacement on the floor exercise after sophomore Kristen Ward was injured during warm-ups. Simbhudas finished with a solid 9.800, good enough for fourth on the event.

Freshman Jessa Hansen also had an impressive showing, scoring a career-high 9.900 on the floor exercise and winning the event. On balance beam (9.850) and uneven bars (9.825), Simbhudas led Iowa, and senior and older sister Jenifer Simbhudas tied for first on the vault a 9.800.

Head coach Larissa Libby views the injuries to Ward and senior Kara Pinjuv as difficult obstacles but believes the team can come together and be successful.

“Right now, we got to go back to the gym and figure out what we’re going to do with our lineups. Clearly, Kristen is not going to be able to go,” Libby said.

— by Evelyn Lau

Men gymnastics meets No. 1 Sooners

The Iowa men’s gymnastics team will travel to Norman, Okla., to take on the top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday.

Iowa will enter the meet ranked 10th in GymInfo’s latest weekly poll. Oklahoma has been ranked No. 1 since Jan. 19.

The Hawkeyes will try to build momentum from their latest performance at home last week in which they scored 341.60 — a 20-point improvement over their loss at Michigan on Jan. 30. Iowa finished third behind both Nebraska (343.50) and Minnesota (345.90).

Oklahoma, the defending 2008 national champion, hasn’t competed since Jan. 31, when it defeated Texas, 349.05-304.95, in Norman.

Saturday’s dual with the Sooners is the first of three-straight road meets for Iowa in the run-up to the Big Ten championships on April 3 in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“We got to get our score up into the 350 range,” Iowa head coach Tom Dunn said following the Feb. 14 triangular. “Hopefully, we can get it done in the next couple of weeks.”

Iowa may need that type of performance on Saturday if it is to avenge last season’s 357.75-338.05 loss to the Sooners in Iowa City.

— by Jordan Garretson

Softball off to Georgia

The Iowa softball team will be on the road this weekend for its third tournament in as many weeks when it travels to Kennesaw, Ga., for the K-Club Classic.

The Hawkeyes have been led by a trio of seniors so far this season. Senior transfer (from South Dakota State) Sam Heinzman leads the team in batting average (.318), home runs (2), and slugging percentage (.636).

Brittany Weil is on pace to rewrite the entire record book for pitchers in Hawkeye history. Last week, the senior pitched her first collegiate no-hitter and struck out a career-high 19 batters. Weil, a perennial All-Big Ten selection, was drafted by the Akron Racers of the National Pro Fastpitch league on Tuesday.

Erin Riemersma had a solid tournament last weekend at shortstop when the Hawkeyes went 4-1 at the Littlewood Classic in Tempe, Ariz. The senior hit .400, stole a base, and maintained a perfect fielding percentage.

Iowa will play Drexel, Memphis, Miami (Ohio), Buffalo, and host Kennesaw State during the three-day tournament. The Hawkeyes enter this weekend at 7-3, and they are in a run of 29-straight road games to open the season.

— by Jon Linder

Baseball opens in Florida

The 2009 season will begins today for the Iowa baseball team.

Starting with a scheduled “nonconference” game against Illinois in the inaugural Big East/Big Ten Challenge, the Hawkeyes are scheduled for three games at various major-league spring-training facilities around St. Petersburg and Clearwater, Fla.

Aside from the Fighting Illini, Iowa will also face St. John’s and Georgetown.

The Hawkeyes will see the return of senior closer Mike Schurz, who spent last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, as well as Tyson Blaser. The junior catcher underwent two surgeries over the summer — one to repair a torn left meniscus and another to remove bone spurs.

“We are going to use this tournament to really see where we’re at as a club,” Iowa head coach Jack Dahm said, in a statement. “This will be our first time outside in a while, which is tough. Our plan is to give everyone a chance and evaluate from there.”

— by Ryan Young

Freeman dives through pain

A week ago, junior diver Deidre Freeman was on crutches.

However, as Day Two of competition finished at the Big Ten championships in Ann Arbor, Mich., she managed to put behind the pain of the cyst on her foot and finish in 12th place in the 1-meter diving event with a score of 253.50.

Freeman was the lone AquaHawk to qualify — she placed 11th in the preliminaries with a score of 255.65.

In the 200 freestyle relay, the quartet of juniors Christine Kuczek, Julie deBruin, freshman Daniela Cubelic, and senior Alison Gschwend placed eighth in the event with a time of 1:32.37, breaking the school record (1:32.95) set in last year’s Big Ten championships.

Iowa stands in 10th place with 49 points, with Indiana in first with 226 points.

Day Three action today will include the 400 individual medley, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, and 100-backstroke and 400-medley relays. The 3-meter diving Big Ten title will also be crowned.

— by Evelyn Lau


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