GymHawks face Iowa State, Southern Utah


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With two meets this weekend, members of the Iowa women’s gymnastics team are demanding all eyes be on them.

The No. 35-ranked Hawkeyes travel to Ames tonight for a rematch with No. 14 Iowa State in Hilton Coliseum at 7 p.m. The rival teams faced off less than two weeks ago in Iowa City, with the Cyclones leaving Carver-Hawkeye Arena with the win.

“I think we’ve gotten a little bit better each meet out since that point,” Iowa head coach Larissa Libby said. “It’s always hard to compete in Ames. It is their ‘Senior Night,’ so it’s going to be really loud and emotional for them. We have to make sure we hold the atmosphere on our own.”

Iowa will return to Iowa City to host their final home meet against No. 20 Southern Utah on March 7 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena at 2 p.m. The meet will be co-ed with Iowa men’s team hosting Illinois.

The final home meet also serves as “Senior Day,” but it may as well be called “Jenny Donar Day.” As the lone senior on the GymHawks, she has taken a zany four-year ride.

The Cuba City, Wis. native arrived as a walk-on, received a scholarship as a sophomore, then gave it up and reverted back to walk-on status once again as an upperclassman.

She posted a career high floor exercise score of 9.850 last weekend, and her emotions will be running at an all-time high as she competes for the final time in Iowa City.

“I’m definitely going to miss it, but I’m going to go out there and have fun like I always do,” Donar said. “No sadness. I just want to show everyone that Iowa does have fun when we’re out there competing and gymnastics is great. Even though I’m going to miss it a lot, don’t leave anything behind. That’s kind of what I want to go out there and show.”

Another GymHawk seeking to perform well this weekend is junior Rebecca Simbhudas. The Markham, Ontario native has won six of eight possible events in Iowa’s last two meets against Iowa State and Minnesota.

The only thing stopping her from sweeping the competition is slipping up on her last two bar routines.

In the all-around, Simbhudas ranks 46th nationally with a 38.875 average score. She will face top-caliber competition in Cyclone Michelle Browning, who ranks 20th nationally with a 39.135 average score, and Thunderbird Elise Wheeler, who ranks No. 12 and has won seven consecutive all-around titles.

In typical Simbhudas fashion, she isn’t caught up in individual accomplishments — she just wants to help the struggling Hawkeyes win their first dual meet in a month.

“It’s great to be able to be recognized for winning those events, but I really don’t think about those,” Simbhudas said. “It’s a good feeling, but it’s nice if we actually win the meet sometimes as a team, instead of me just winning individual titles. I like to have it both ways — being able to win those events and also as a team as well.”

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