GymHawks secure silver


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The familiar surroundings of Carver-Hawkeye Arena helped the Iowa women’s gymnastics team earn a second-place finish in its first home meet of the 2010 season.

The Hawkeyes scored 192.225 points as the runner-up on Jan. 15; Michigan State won the meet with 194.425 points. Illinois-Chicago placed third, tallying 177.700.

This was Iowa’s second-consecutive second-place finish. The squad also earned silver on Jan. 9 in Ann Arbor, Mich.

With an overwhelmingly young team — there is only one senior on the roster — head coach Larissa Libby was pleased with the her gymnasts’ effort but is waiting for the Hawkeyes to realize their potential.

“I know it’s difficult for the girls to see, but it’s not how you start. It’s how you finish, and I think our routines were a lot cleaner,” she said in a release. “We tell our team not to look at the scores because it’s subjective, but I really do believe that the level of gymnastics done [Jan. 15] was far superior to what they did just a week ago.”

The story of the meet came in the form of huge performances by a trio of GymHawks.

Sophomore Jessa Hansen placed first in the all-around with 39.025 points — a career high. Juniors Houry Gebeshian (38.375) and Rebecca Simbhudas (38.300) finished in fifth and sixth place, respectively.

Michigan State gymnasts placed second through fourth in the all-around.

Hansen dominated in the all-around because she posted career-bests in the vault (9.775) and balance beam (9.850).

Simbhudas placed second in the vault with a 9.875, and Gebeshian tied for third with 9.800.
Gebeshian tied Hansen for second in the beam, and Simbhudas won the floor exercise, scoring a 9.825.

Despite her impressive showing, Hansen agreed with Libby that the Hawkeyes have a lot of room for improvement if they are going to achieve the level of success they desire.

“We made a lot of mistakes. Our consistency wasn’t there,” Hansen said. “We’re staying positive because we’re capable of hanging with the best teams in the Big Ten.”

Simbhuads echoed Hansen’s feelings, and she said she knows the team has yet to put together its best performance after two meets.

“We’re on the right track,” she said. “We did better than last week. We missed some minor details, but I think we need to keep on going, fix those details, those landings and executions.”

The first home meet always brings extra excitement, Hansen said, and last weekend was no exception.

“You can see the Hawkeye pride in the stands, and the crowd gets really into it,” she said. “It was just really fun to start the season at home.”

Iowa will next compete on Saturday, when it travels to Penn State.

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