Golden Gophers down GymHawks


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Déjà vu struck for the Iowa women’s gymnastics team on Sunday.

A few botched routines against No. 33 Minnesota led to a 194.625-194.200 loss for the No. 32 Hawkeyes in the Field House.

“It’s hard, because you feel like no matter what we do, sometimes it just doesn’t work out,” sophomore Annie Szatkowski said.

Junior Rebecca Simbhudas won three events and seemed poised to take the all-around, but she had a mishap on the uneven bars that, for the second meet in a row, proved to be costly.

The Golden Gophers’ Lucy Ennis earned the all-around title with a 39.100, and Simbhudas took second with a 38.900.

The GymHawks swept the top three spots in vault to open the meet. Simbhudas took the vault title, scoring a 9.850, while sophomore Szatkowski and junior Houry Gebeshian placed second and third with scores of 9.800 and 9.775.

Sophomore Jordan Eszlinger and freshman Emma Stevenson led Iowa on the uneven bars, each hitting 9.825. Simbhudas’ slip-up earned her a last-place finish with a 9.325 score. Minnesota’s Kristin Furukawa won the event with a 9.900.

This season, the balance beam has been Iowa’s best event, according to national rankings. The Hawkeyes rank 26th nationally with a team average of 48.170. They came close to reaching that with a 48.100, and Simbhudas led the Hawkeyes with a 9.850.

Iowa closed on the floor exercise — the team’s second-best event. The Hawkeyes average 48.595, ranking them 27th nationally. Simbhudas again won, posting a 9.875.

“We need a lot of work to do,” she said. “We need to figure it out. Time is ticking, but hopefully, we’ll figure it out soon enough and be able to hit 24-for-24.”

Going into the meet, Gebeshian said she felt extremely sick, but head coach Larissa Libby, though apprehensive, decided to allow her to compete. However, Libby took the junior out of Iowa’s final event for health reasons.

“We made a decision to pull her from floor, even though we know that would’ve made the difference, so that we can all sleep knowing that she’s safe and has the chance to recover and get healthy,” Libby said.

Szatkowski said the team is worn down a bit mentally after many close defeats, and the gymnasts need to practice as though they are always in a meet situation in order to prevent another loss in the future.

She said one positive is that the Hawkeyes managed a higher score than in their 193.825 total they posted in their loss to Iowa State on Feb. 21.

“We can definitely build on that,” Szatkowski said. “We’ve been trying to do that all year, just haven’t quite done it yet. Now I feel like we have the momentum. We need to skyrocket to the top.”

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