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Golden opportunity awaits GymHawks

BY ROBBIE LEHMAN | FEBRUARY 19, 2010 7:30 AM

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The Iowa women’s gymnastics team will have to work this weekend.

No. 15 Iowa State will head to Iowa City on Feb. 21 for a dual meet at 2 p.m. in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The No. 33 Hawkeyes are coming off a fourth-place finish at the Navy Pier Meet in Chicago on Feb. 12. The Cyclones are energized after scoring a season-high 196.225 points despite falling to No. 1 Oklahoma last weekend.

However, Iowa owns a two-meet win streak over Iowa State after sweeping the Cyclones during the home and away series last season.

“I love when we compete against Iowa State,” junior Andrea Hurlburt said. “It’s important to us that we do well. I know [the Cyclones are] looking out for revenge, and I don’t want to give it to them.”

The meet is the latest event in this season’s Cy-Hawk Series, which Iowa State leads, 12-7.

The Cyclones average 195.271 points per meet, and the Hawkeyes are putting up 193.183. Iowa’s highest score of the season — 194.925 — came during the team’s lone Big Ten win over Ohio State two weeks ago.

Designated as a “Blackout” meet, fans will be given black rally towels and “Beat State” signs. The Hawkeyes will also sign autographs after the meet.

Iowa head coach Larissa Libby said she is expecting fans from both schools to fill Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“For gymnastics, it doesn’t really matter whether they’re your fans or not,” Libby said. “Having stands that are packed is great to compete in front of as long as the noise is there. It’s very helpful. Our fans have been great helping us out.”

Iowa will look for a strong performance by junior Houry Gebeshian, who finished second in the all-around during the team’s latest meet in Chicago. Nationally, she ranks No. 46 in the all-around, averaging 38.888 points.

The Newton, Mass., native said Iowa’s two wins over Iowa State last season isn’t causing her additional pressure.

“That was huge, and we’ve got a lot to live up to this time,” Gebeshian said. “But I think we’re just going to go into it like every other meet and kick some butt.”

But before the 2009 campaign, the Cyclones have held an advantage over the Hawkeyes. The two teams are set to meet a second time on March 5 in Ames.

“In the past, they’ve pretty much owned us,” Libby said. “We would like to kind of keep that up [from last season’s sweep] over the next couple years and make sure we’re creating a dominance over them as they seem to supposedly have over us.”

However, with ample talent on the balance beam Iowa State may dominate the Hawkeyes in at least one event this weekend.

Hurlburt, one of Iowa’s beam specialists, said she sees the event as an opportunity for the Hawkeyes to illustrate the instate rivalry is nowhere near one-sided.

“While our beam team stays up, they have a little bit better presentation than us,” Hurlburt said. “So we’re going to be really focusing on that. It’s going to be a chance for us to show that it doesn’t matter what you’re ranked in gymnastics. Anyone can win. It’s going to be really important for us to just get out there and know that we can be as good as them.”


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