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Women's GymHawks face highs and lows in Ames

BY ALEX FRENCH | JANUARY 30, 2012 7:20 AM

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The Iowa women's gymnastics team's average score over its first three meets was 194.058. The GymHawks posted a 194.55 on Jan. 27, exceeding their average score by nearly half a point.

But in-state rival Iowa State scored a 194.9 and topped the Hawkeyes in Hilton Coliseum.

The Hawkeyes (1-1-1) led the Cyclones (1-2-0), 146.425-146.0, going into the final event, the balance beam. A pair of falls by freshmen Emma Willis and Emily Bigras dropped the team's score to 48.125, and the beam became Iowa's lowest scoring event of the evening.

Iowa's current average team score, 194.181, is good enough to keep them in the top 25 rankings, but head coach Larissa Libby said her team needs to execute better.

"We weren't very sharp tonight," Libby said on Jan. 27. "You can't go into [Hilton Coliseum] and make mistakes. We created an opening. They saw it and jumped."

Iowa started with a 48.725 on bars thanks to senior Jessa Hansen's 9.875, the team's highest individual score of the night. Emma Stevenson's 9.825 on the floor routine earned a three-way tie for first. Junior Maya Wickus' 9.85 on vault, which earned first place, contributed to a team score of 48.925, a season-high for the event.

Then came the falls on the beam, two mistakes that put a damper on Iowa's overall performance. But Hansen said it wasn't just that event in which the Hawkeyes made mistakes.

"One event didn't stand out," said Hansen, a former Daily Iowan employee. "We did well on every event but made mistakes on each one. There were a lot of highs and lows."

Libby agreed and said there were both good and bad performances.

"I was still quite impressed with some gymnastics tonight, but it wasn't enough," she said. "We had the opportunity to score extremely well. We still scored well, but the chance was there to score really high."

Despite being disappointed about the loss, freshman Jessica Morreale — whose 9.85 earned first place on the beam — said she believes the team can bounce back.

"Next week in the gym, we all need to work on the details," she said. "We have the skills. It comes down to details."

Thanks to the loss, Libby and the GymHawks know what needs to be done to improve, but the eighth-year coach said there's no excuse for the team's lack of execution.

"Bottom line: We have to stay up on the right night … we gave it away," she said. "Everybody is disappointed. We're a better team than that."


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