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GymHawks selected to advance to regionals

BY MOLLY IRENE OLMSTEAD | MARCH 22, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa women’s gymnastics team competed at the Big Ten championships on March 19 in Minneapolis and placed sixth. The Hawkeyes had expected to finish first.

But the disappointment that came with the conference meet doesn’t mean the GymHawks have fallen. They just had “a bad day,” head coach Larissa Libby said.

The 15th-ranked Hawkeyes posted a team score of 194.85, their lowest since their meet against North Carolina on Feb. 6.

“It’s not what we had hoped for, and there’s not consolation for us. We went there to win, and we didn’t,” Libby said. “It wasn’t that we weren’t prepared, or we didn’t have a good enough team, or that other teams were out of our reach — we just had an off day as a team.”

The GymHawks watched two of their all-arounders — Simbhudas and Hansen — fall, and many others also made small mistakes that added up.

“It’s disappointing, but we earned that [sixth] spot because we did mess up,” senior Houry Gebeshian said. “We didn’t focus on the things we were supposed to focus on. I think that’s exactly where we should have ended up that day. We could have been No. 1, but we weren’t, so now it’s time to move on.”

Gebeshian performed well, however; she placed fifth in the all-around with a score of 39.225, her third-highest of the season. She earned first-team All-Big-Ten honors.

“All season, I was kind of stressing myself out a lot about being the best and contributing to the team and being perfect,” she said. “That wasn’t working for me, because I don’t do so well under pressure, so I just relaxed. It felt great to finally be able to do my gymnastics like I know how to do.”

Iowa has been selected as one of the 36 teams to compete in the regional meet. The GymHawks will compete in the Corvallis Regional at Oregon State on April 2.

The Hawkeyes will compete for the first time this season against Oregon State and San Jose State; they have previously faced Nebraska, Southern Utah, and Michigan State.

Despite their disappointment with their conference performance, the GymHawks aren’t looking at regionals as a chance to redeem themselves but instead, just another meet in which they need to compete well to advance to nationals.

“Last year, we went into regionals [ranked] 30th,” sophomore Emma Stevenson said. “This year we divided that in half. That’s a lot. I think we definitely made a name for ourselves this year. If you look at the difference between this year and last, it’s amazing.”

After several impressive victories this season — including one over reigning Big Ten champ Michigan — the GymHawks have made a name for themselves in the gymnastics community as a team that needs to be feared.

“Our record shows that we’re more likely to perform well than perform poorly,” Libby said. “Based on this great season we’ve had, it’s obvious that we have a better chance of being consistent than having another off day. Regionals won’t be a place to redeem ourselves but instead just another meet to compete at.”


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