Karma fuels women’s gymnastics


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The saying “What goes around comes around” applied to the Iowa women’s gymnastics team during this past weekend.

Before the team’s dual meet with Ohio State on Feb. 6, the GymHawks made a trip to the IMU to support those participating in Dance Marathon.

“It was the most amazing experience ever,” Hawkeye head coach Larissa Libby said. “We went over there and just tried to give them a little morale. … We were very pleased to be a part of that.”

In return, fans flocked to Carver-Hawkeye Arena to watch Iowa take on the Buckeyes in a “Think Pink” meet meant to raise awareness for breast cancer. The announced crowd of 766 sounded even larger and proved to be instrumental in helping Iowa make a final-event comeback to win the meet, 194.925-193.025.

The Hawkeyes earned their first Big Ten win of the season, but the meet served only as a platform to promote a larger cause.

During introductions, the GymHawks walked into the stands to pass out flowers to those who have beaten or are fighting breast cancer.

It was extra special meet for Iowa sophomore Jessa Hansen, whose mother beat the disease and was at the meet cheering for her daughter right along with the other Iowa fans.

“It was awesome,” Hansen said. “It’s kind of cool how they get into it. It’s great how everyone came to support breast cancer awareness. It’s a great cause, and it was a great turnout.”

Black and gold gear was abandoned for pink T-shirts, ties, pom-poms, and ribbons among other garb. The GymHawks wore black leotards with pink stripes, and pink balloons were tied to tables.
Even the black floor exercise mat was outlined in hot pink tape.

The Hawkeyes directly interacted with the fans throughout the meet. Each GymHawk who posted a score of 9.70 or better tossed a pink T-shirt into the stands, sending Hawkeye supporters into a screaming frenzy.

“[The fans] were definitely into it,” junior Houry Gebeshian said, noting they helped the Hawkeyes reach their highest point total of the season. “I tried pumping them up before our floor routine. I always just try to get them as involved as possible.”

With Iowa down by .175 going into the final rotation, Gebeshian jogged around the concourse motioning her arms up and down, trying to get Iowa fans on their feet. A section of fans even cheered “Hip, Hip, Houry.” The entire Hawkeye squad was energized, dancing to the music over the arena speakers.

Behind the strong floor routines of Gebeshian, Hansen, and junior Rebecca Simbhudas, who won the all-around, the GymHawks showed the quality that Libby has been trying to squeeze out of her young team all season: confidence.

Iowa’s clearly evident swagger in the final rotation animated the crowd, which undoubtedly brought out the killer instinct, Libby said.

Beginning and ending the day in support of a good cause, support for the Hawkeyes came around when they needed it most.

“We can hear them,” she said after the meet as her team danced to the Cha-Cha Slide with fans. “Every time they start their little cheers, it just gets you. It just gives you that extra little umph to get going. They feel that strength in numbers.”

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