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Iowa women's gymnastics defeats rival Iowa State in annual pink meet

BY ALEX FRENCH | FEBRUARY 20, 2012 6:30 AM

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The No. 24 Iowa women's gymnastics team led Iowa State after vault and uneven bars during its Feb. 17 meet against the Cyclones — a relatively familiar position.

But the balance beam — the GymHawks' most troublesome event of the season — ultimately clinched Iowa's 194.150-192.750 win in its annual Pink breast-cancer awareness meet, head coach Larissa Libby said.

"It was nice to clinch with beam. They just needed it one time to be like, 'OK, we can do this,' " she said. "It was not perfect, it was far from what we needed to be, but the trust builds. Each time the trust builds."

Iowa's 48.325 was its second-highest beam score of the season. The Hawkeyes swept all events and individual titles, including the all-around competition.

Senior Jessa Hansen was a game-time decision because of two sprained spinal disks sustained Feb. 10 at Ohio State, but she contributed to her all-around title with a first-place score of 9.85 on the beam — while wearing a back brace.

Rachel Corcoran's 9.825 in the vault tied a career-high, and junior Emma Stevenson added titles in floor and the uneven bars with a 9.85 and 9.825, respectively.

While no event stood out among the others, Hansen said, the team is happy with its overall improvement on beam.

"It was great to put a beam team together. We can build on this event and continue to build throughout the rest of the season," she said. "We're not complacent. We're happy with the improvement on beam."

Corcoran agreed, saying her beam teammates had the ability to excel all along.

"The beam team did great this weekend," she said. "We knew they could do it based on what they do in the gym [each week during practice]."

Libby was also happy with the progress, she said. She decided to have the floor exercise and beam compete simultaneously for the first time this season in preparation for future meets.

"We decided we were going to make that change and teach them, because that's what it's going to be like [at the Big Ten championships]," she said. "That's what it's going to be like, and that's how you need to be able to focus down."

In front of 1,277 pink-draped fans, the Hawkeyes finished with a 48.85 in the floor, a score tied for the second-highest in the event all season.

Although Libby conceded the team made a number of atypical mistakes — including a fall on the uneven bars by senior Jordan Eszlinger — she admired how the team rallied.

A large part of this, she said, was because of the fans.

"The fans were phenomenal. They were the difference-maker for us on beam and floor," she said. "I know fans don't often get credit, but that win came from them tonight."


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