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GymHawks struggle on the beam

BY MOLLY IRENE OLMSTEAD | FEBRUARY 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa women’s gymnastics team defeated Wisconsin-Stout on Sunday in the Field House, 195.3-183.2, and placed first in every event.

Yet, the squad continued to stumble on the balance beam.

The beam has been a consistent struggle for the team. After winning against Denver on Feb. 11, 196.350-196.2 — a meet that didn’t see a single Hawkeye fall on any event, including beam — the GymHawks struggled on the apparatus on Sunday.

Both of the GymHawks’ all-arounders — senior Rebecca Simbhudas and junior Jessa Hansen — fell off the beam.

But the falls didn’t account for an “implosion,” head coach Larissa Libby said. After Hansen and Simbhudas fell, seniors Arielle Sucich (9.775) and Houry Gebeshian (9.875), and junior Annie Szatkowski (9.725) hit their routines.

“Normally in that situation, the back half of the lineup would have continued to fall,” Libby said. “But we were able to get back in there and keep fighting.”

In the past week, the GymHawks have stressed mental preparation during practice. To imitate a competition setting, the gymnasts were given a 30-second touch warm-up before having to perform a full routine. The psychological training improved the Hawkeyes’ ability to rebound from setbacks against Wisconsin-Stout.

“You have to be able to hit after people go down in front of you,” Szatkowski said. “It’s easy to carry on momentum, but it’s harder to bring it back. I think it shows how much stronger we are mentally and physically that we were able to make a comeback.”

The GymHawks also had to overcome losing freshman Tesla Cox against Denver. Cox sprained her ankle during her floor-exercise routine; she will be out of competition for approximately two weeks.

At the Denver meet, Cox took over senior Andrea Hurlburt’s spots in the lineup for beam and floor for the first time. After Cox was unable to compete on Sunday, Hurlburt reclaimed those places in the lineup and delivered scores of 9.7 on beam and 9.6 on floor.

“I know this is my last shot, so I really want to prove to myself how good I can do,” she said. “I feel really good about today. It means a lot to me that I was able to prove that I can come in a do a good job for my team.”

Overall, the team scores of 195.3 against Wisconsin-Stout and 196.35 against Denver put the GymHawks ahead of where they were at this time last year, especially coming off a weekend with two competitions.

“The most important thing is that those girls taught themselves not to quit,” Libby said. “In the bigger picture, that’s way more important than getting another 196 down in the books.”


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