GymHawks score high in loss


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Competing against three top-20 teams forced several GymHawks to pick up their performance on Feb. 12.

Four members of the Iowa women’s gymnastics team set one or many career-highs at the Navy Pier Meet in Chicago, which saw Iowa finish fourth behind No. 19 Denver, No. 20 Illinois, and No. 10 Nebraska.

Despite being disappointed by the last-place result, Iowa head coach Larissa Libby was proud her team raised the proverbial bar.

“It’s definitely a highlight that all of these girls are having career highs,” she said. “It’s pushing the team to get better. The thing we ask of them all the time is to better yourself every weekend, better yourself in the gym every day so you can reach that pinnacle at the end of the week. I really believe it’s paying off.”

Iowa ended with a 193.625 team score, a smidge better than its 193.095 season average.

Junior Houry Gebeshian led her squad, placing second in the all-around with a score of 39.225. The Newton, Mass., native hit a 9.850 on bars — a career high — for a share of first place.

Sophomore Melissa Miller posted a 9.675 on the balance beam to give herself a new personal best.

Gebeshian said that while the Hawkeyes were aware of the stiff competition, they also tried to focus on what they could individually control.

“I think we just went out there, did what we know how to do, and the scores turned out how they turned out,” she said.

Emma Stevenson set career high marks in three events with a collection of family and friends in attendance. The freshman from Winfield, Ill., tied for sixth on bars with a 9.775. She also hit a 9.500 on the vault and a 9.725 on the floor exercise, her first floor routine as a Hawkeye.

“It felt really good,” she said. “I’ve been working hard all season, and it’s kind of nice to have it recognized at a meet. I wasn’t expecting it; it just kind of happened that way so that was pretty cool.”

A large factor in the high scores by so many GymHawks may have been Libby’s decision to shrink the travel roster. Even though venturing to Chicago is a relatively short trip, the sixth-year head coach opted to bring only the women competing rather than the full squad for — a tactic Libby describes as a “going to battle type of approach.”

Gebeshian said she liked the decision, and she thought the smaller Iowa team was more focused.

“It’s hard when there’s just fluff people hanging out, cheering,” she said. “Everybody was there to do her job, to compete. I think it’s much better when there is just the people who are competing. Everyone is on the same page.”

Libby said telling the rest of her gymnasts they weren’t traveling was difficult, but she thinks it will spur competition — eventually bringing the best out in her team, just as the strong competition did in Chicago over the weekend.

“These kids are champing at the bit to be able to get into the lineup and show that they’re confident and a great competitor and can get the job done for their team,” she said.

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