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GymHawks finish fifth at regionals

BY MOLLY IRENE OLMSTEAD | APRIL 04, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Iowa women’s gymnastics team placed fifth in the Corvallis, Ore., regional on April 2, tallying a team score of 193.925. The GymHawks finished ahead of Southern Utah (193.775), but fell to San Jose State (194.425), Michigan State (194.5), Nebraska (196.550), and regional champion Oregon State (197.025).

The Hawkeyes suffered from three devastating falls in their first event, the floor exercise, two of which came from the first two routines. After having to count two falls in its total score, Iowa recorded its lowest floor score of the season, 47.325.

“It was disheartening to watch so many of our girls go down,” head coach Larissa Libby said. “We’ve not made that many mistakes on one event since the beginning of the year because we’re used to bouncing back. But for whatever reason, we weren’t able to do that this time.”

After the GymHawks struggled in the first event, they didn’t see another fall for the remainder of the meet. After watching teammate Jessa Hansen fall to end the floor event, senior Arielle Sucich started the Hawkeyes out in their second event on vault with a solid 9.625.

After a strong start from Sucich, the Hawkeyes recovered well to land every vault and record sticks from senior Houry Gebeshian (9.775) and Annie Szatkowski (9.8). Szatkowski tied for seventh on the event with teammate Rebecca Simbhudas. The GymHawks stayed up for the remainder of the meet and recorded six stick landings.

In order to advance to the NCAA championship meet, Iowa needed to finish in the top two in Corvallis. But even though the team’s season is over, seniors Simbhudas and Gebeshian will continue on to compete individually at nationals.

Simbhudas placed second in the all-around with a score of 39.325 and Gebeshian finished right behind her in third with her season-high score of 39.3. The dynamic duo also tied for second on beam with a score of 9.875.

“It was really tough to not make it to nationals last year,” Gebeshian said. “But that really motivated me this year. I just really wanted to go out there and do the gymnastics I know I can do.”

In addition to the having two all-arounders on the podium, Iowa gathered three all-regional selections: Simbhudas was named the North Central Region Gymnast of the Year and assistant coaches Linas Gaveika and Caleb Phillips were named the North Central Region Assistant Coaches of the Year.

Each team in the region nominates the assistant coaching staff it thinks has excelled throughout the year. Being nominated by fellow coaches makes the honor special for Gaveika and Phillips because it shows that their peers recognize them and their hard work, Libby said.

Despite the “disheartening” finish at regionals, the GymHawks have finished their season proud of the progress they have shown toward becoming a nationally recognized team.

“Obviously, this wasn’t the ideal way we intended to end the season, but with the honors and recognition and the wonderful things that did happen all year, we’re able to say we had a successful season,” Libby said. “To ask for everything to change in just 365 short days was a lot, so even though everything didn’t change, a lot of things did, and we’re going to do even better next year.”


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