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Simbhudas and Gebeshian finish top-20 in the nation

BY MOLLY IRENE OLMSTEAD | APRIL 18, 2011 7:20 AM

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Iowa's Rebecca Simbhudas placed ninth and Houry Gebeshian 20th at the NCAA women's gymnastics Championships on April 15th in Cleveland. Simbhudas finished with a score of 39.2 and Gebeshian with 38.125 in the all-around competition.

Although the two gymnasts didn't finish as high as they hoped, they are still satisfied with appearing at the NCAAs and representing Iowa on the national stage.

"It's so exciting to go out there and be able to compete with the top gymnasts of the country," said Simbhudas, who competed at NCAAs for the second time. "It's a really good feeling, just being able to be out on the floor at this meet and be a part of nationals."

She finished both floor and vault with a score of 9.825. She marked 9.8 on bars and 9.750 on beam. Her ninth-place finish landed her one spot away from earning her second-All American honor.

Competing as an individual, Simbhudas rotated during the semifinal with the 2011 national champion Alabama. Despite being a Hawkeye among the Crimson Tide, Alabama welcomed her into their team dynamic with ease. They even called Iowa's staff about a week before the competition for Simbhudas' apparatus settings so their managers would be prepared to set up for her events.

"I feel very honored to have been able to rotate with [Alabama]," Simbhudas said. "They are so much fun to be with and being able to rotate with the national champions was amazing because they cheered me on and really took me into their family."

Gebeshian made her première on the national stage in Cleveland, taking home scores of 9.8 on floor exercise, 9.775 on vault, 9.050 on bars, and 9.5 on beam.

"I was just really excited to have this opportunity and ready to take the next step up to the next level of competition like I did," she said. "I'm disappointed in the way my senior year went and the way I competed [at NCAAs], but I'm very grateful that I had the experience, and I'm pleased with my whole collegiate career as a whole."

Despite the end of their college gymnastics careers, Simbhudas and Gebeshian won't leave the Hawkeyes' gym just yet. Simbhudas is returning as a volunteer coach, and Gebeshian hopes to continue training in Iowa City as she prepares for the World Championships in October.

"This was an invaluable experience for [Gebeshian], because she'll continue to work toward the World Championships followed by the Olympics," Libby said in a release. "In order to be the best, you need to experience this level of competition, and Houry learned things this week that she'll carry throughout her career."

Gebeshian said one of the most valuable lessons she learned at NCAAs was what it is like to stand on a podium, a new experience for her in college gymnastics.

Libby said it was "wonderful" to watch two of her seniors compete on the national stage but added that it's bittersweet knowing that nationals was the end of the road for Simbhudas and Gebeshian as Hawkeyes.

"At this meet, you could look at everything that they've done and realize how far they have come," Libby said. "I think back to what they were like when they first got here, when they weren't good competitors, weren't confident enough in themselves to do this well. It's the pride that you take in the years of work you put into them."


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