Inspired GymHawks earn elusive 196 score

BY MATT CABEL | MARCH 11, 2013 5:00 AM

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Larissa Libby called it a Cinderella story.

Her women’s gymnastics team faced numerous challenges entering their final home meet of the season. The GymHawks were fatigued after a meet four days earlier in which they scored their lowest overall score of the season. The team also lost senior Kaitlynn Urano to a season-ending leg injury Thursday afternoon.

But Libby’s squad responded.

The Black and Gold’s 196.375-194.575 victory over the Cyclones on March 8 was not only the team’s highest overall score of the season, it also gave the team an undefeated record in Carver-Hawkeye Arena this season.

“Everyone just felt the love tonight,” senior Emma Stevenson said. “It was just a lot of passion for the sport more than anything. We were always ready, so it wasn’t surprising. It was more like ‘Thank you, finally.’ “

Senior Maya Wickus scored a 9.875 on the vault, a season-best performance that earned the senior a tie for second place. Stevenson anchored the floor event and scored a 9.875, which earned her a tie for first place, and a 9.85 on the bars, which earned her a tie for first.

“To let seniors go is extremely difficult,” Libby said in a release. “You’re saying goodbye to kids who have affected your life, your team, and your family. We’ve had a very rough 48 hours … to have the team focus down, flip that scenario, come out with the best score they’ve had all season, win against Iowa State, and clinch the Cy-Hawk award speaks volumes of this team.”

After Urano’s injury, Libby told her team to focus on facing the Cyclones and that they would deal with the injury repercussions afterwards.

“It’s really hard to see someone like that, who’s hitting her stride this year, hitting her routines, becoming a really integral part of the lineup [get injured],” senior Emma Stevenson said. “It’s been really hard for me to think that she’s done — it’s really sad. But she’s a trouper; she’s tough as rocks.”

The GymHawks won’t celebrate Senior Night again until 2015; next year’s leadership will come from the team’s four current sophomores.

“We’re leaving the program with a legacy that no matter what, we go into the gym every day, and we dig deep and work hard,” senior Maya Wickus said. “If you keep pushing toward your goals and keep re-evaluating where you are and how to get to them, they’ll happen — you’ll reach them. With it being such a young team after we leave, we’ve really tried to pull out the best qualities in each athlete who’s a part of this team and push them to be the best they can be.”

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