GymHawks host No. 25 Maryland Saturday


Some teams rely heavily on a single performer for a lift.

The Iowa women’s gymnastics team is lucky enough to not have to follow that formula.

Despite losing gymnasts to injuries over the last few weeks, others have stepped up to help the GymHawks stay focused on the task at hand — striving to become better each week.

The GymHawks (8-4, 2-1) recently had their two-meet winning streak snapped by Southern Utah, but they hope to return to their winning ways when they host No. 25 Maryland in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday.

Iowa will be led by sophomore Rebecca Simbhudas, who finished second against Southern Utah last week in the all-around competition with a 39.250, which includes a 9.925 on the balance beam, one of the highest marks scored by an Iowa gymnast since the 2006 season. She was honored by being named co-Big Ten Gymnast of the Week, an accomplishment that head coach Larissa Libby believes is well-deserved.

“I am so happy for her, I am so pleased for her,” the coach said. “She’s been working really hard, and I think she just has this little internal demon that constantly tells her she’s not good enough.

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“I’m hopeful that with the last couple of wins she’s had, and some really consistent high performances, and finally a Big Ten Gymnast of the Week — which is very, very difficult to have in our conference — that’ll she gain that confidence she needs to know she’s a wonderful, wonderful gymnast and not just a good gymnast for Iowa but a contender in the Big Ten.”

With three meets left in the regular season, Libby is making sure her team isn’t looking ahead at the Big Ten championships quite yet but rather focusing on each meet at hand.

“I don’t want them to think about it, because I feel like last year and the years past, we really focused on Big Tens we’re capable of winning, and while I think the team has the potential to win, as I think many teams,” Libby said. “If you look at the rankings, the Big Ten is all crunched in together between 14 and 21, all of us. So I don’t think there’s a lot of disparity between the teams, and whoever hits the best on that night is going to win.”

Sophomore Houry Gebeshian and senior Jenifer Simbhudas are also expected to keep up their usual solid performances and challenge the younger Simbhudas in the all-around competition.
However, at the last competition, Jenifer Simbhudas fell off the uneven bars and was unable to finish her performance, which resulted in a 7.700. She believes her mentality is what she needs to work on the most.

“I basically figured out I need to have a more stable mindset,” she said. “I think I just need to be more mentally tough on each event.”

Iowa has averaged a 194.162 team, good enough for third in the North Central Region, but Libby believes there is potential to still go even higher. However, she believes the GymHawks will need to learn to have more consistent performances in order for that to happen.

“We can’t get to that magical 24-for-24 because we have random falls here and there,” Libby said. “I think beam in gymnastics is always a concern.”

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