Hawkeyes Prepare For Regional Championships

April 10, 2008

IOWA CITY, IA — The University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team has advanced to the NCAA Regionals for the first time since 2005. The team will travel to Minneapolis, MN, Thursday afternoon with a practice day Friday before Saturday’s meet.

The GymHawks will compete as the fourth seed in the North Central Regional held at the University of Minnesota, Saturday at 6 p.m. The Hawkeyes earned the bid after a successful regular season campaign in which they went 10-4-1 with a fifth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships.

Head Coach Larissa Libby was named co-Big Ten Coach of the Year and junior Jenifer Simbhudas was named first team all-Big Ten. Simbhudas earned Big Ten Gymnast of the Week honors twice. The regional appearance is the second under Larissa Libby who is in her fourth season as Iowa’s head coach.

The Hawkeyes will begin competition on beam before resting during a second-rotation bye. Beam was Iowa’s best event at the Big Ten Championships with three top-ten finishers. Katie Burke tied for fifth (9.85) while Rebecca Simbhudas tied for eighth (9.825) and Kara Pinjuv scored a 9.8 to tie for 10th. Iowa will compete on floor during the third rotation followed by vault and another bye before wrapping up competition on bars.

This is Iowa’s eighth trip to NCAA Regional Championships. The Hawkeyes’ best regional finish is second, multiple times, most recently in 2004 which earned the team a bid to the NCAA Championships. The Hawkeyes have competed at the NCAA Championships twice; in 2003 and 2004, placing sixth in Session I on both occasions. Iowa finished 11th overall in 2003 and 12th overall in 2004.

Burke, Pinjuv and Simbhudas represented Iowa at the 2007 North Central Regional Championships. Burke was Iowa’s top all-around competitor, scoring a 38.925 which propelled her to the 2007 NCAA Championships. Other regional scores for Iowa included Simbhudas’ 11th-place vault finish and Burke’s 14th-place bars performance. Pinjuv’s best performance was a 29th-place finish on beam.

Iowa will face No. 2 Utah, No. 11 Arkansas, No. 14 Arizona, Southern Utah and Minnesota. Iowa is currently ranked 22nd with a regional qualifying score of 195.245. Additionally, individuals from Air Force, Utah and Wisconsin-Whitewater will be competing. Rotating with Iowa will be individual all-around competitor Michelle Denise of Air Force.

Six teams, plus up to five all-around competitors (who are not on a qualifying team) and one individual event specialist per event were named to six regions across the country. The other five regional sites include Baton Rouge, LA, (Central), Norman, OK, (South Central), University Park, PA, (Northeast), Gainesville, FL, (Southeast) and Corvallis, OR, (West).

The top two teams and the top two all-around competitors (who are not on an advancing team) from each regional will receive an automatic berth to the national championships hosted by University of Georgia in, Athens, GA, April 24-26. In addition, the event winners at the regional championships will advance to the national championships (in that event only) if they are not part of a qualifying team or the all-around qualifiers.

Live scoring from the 2008 North Central Regional will be available at: North Central Regional Livestats

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