GymHawks Finish Regional In Sixth

April 4, 2009

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IOWA CITY, IA – The University of Iowa hosted the NCAA North Central regional Saturday night inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, with the host Hawkeyes finishing in sixth place (193.625). The University of Florida won the regional with a score of 196.775 and qualified to the national competition April 16 in Lincoln, NE. UCLA also qualified to nationals after finishing in second place with a 196.625.

“Obviously, this was not the way we wanted to close out our season,” said Iowa Head Coach Larissa Libby. “As we have all season, I really felt we battled hard. The odds were stacked against us with some great teams here. While we couldn’t pull out a win, I couldn’t be more proud with the way we fought tonight.”

The storyline Saturday night for Iowa was the loss of senior Jenifer Simbhudas. For the second year in a row, Simbhudas saw her season end at regionals due to injury. This time, Simbhudas slipped on floor and suffered a knee injury in the third rotation and did not return. In her lone event of the night, Simbhudas scored a 9.625 on balance beam. Last season, Simbhudas was on pace to qualify for NCAA National Championships before suffering an injury on uneven bars.

Simbhudas will end her career as one of the most decorated gymnasts in Iowa history. She is one of only six gymnasts in school history to be named all-Big ten three times in her career. She was a second team all-Big Ten selection as a sophomore and was named to the first team last year and this year. In addition, Simbhudas has two of the best floor scores in Iowa history: a 9.95 in 2008 (tie for second all-time) and a 9.925 this year (tie for third all-time). This season, Simbhudas scored team-highs on vault, floor and in the all-around.

Iowa started the meet on balance beam, scoring a 48.175 as a team. Sophomore Houry Gebeshian led Iowa on the event, scoring a 9.7. After a bye, the GymHawks moved to floor and the crowd of over 1,700 was energized by a floor performance by Iowa freshman Jessa Hansen. Hansen scored a 9.900, which was Iowa’s best score of the night and good enough for a tie of third place. Additionally, sophomore Rebecca Simbhudas scored a 9.875 and tied for seventh place.

Freshman Annie Szatkowski was Iowa’s top performer on vault, scoring a 9.825 and tying for 14th place. R. Simbhudas showed some moxie in wake of her older sisters’ injury, scoring a 9.8 and tying for 18th place. Sophomore Arielle Sucich also received the same mark. And after not competing on vault all season, junior Jenny Donar stepped up in Simbhudas’ place to score a 9.6.

Iowa would close their season out on uneven bars, led by R. Simbhudas’ score of 9.825. Gebeshian tied for 13th place with a 9.775, while senior Brandi Loffer, also competing in her final collegiate event, scored a 9.750 (20th place).

Despite the loss, Iowa’s younger class shined Saturday night. R. Simbhudas (39.075) and Gebeshian (38.925), both sophomores, finished in 11th and 12th place, respectively, in the all-around. The underclassmen showed the future is filled with promise, with two freshmen leading Iowa on two events (Hansen on floor, Szatkowski on vault), and sophomores Simbhudas and Gebeshian were Iowa’s top performers on bars and balance beam, respectively.

At the conclusion of tonight’s meet, Libby was honored by the crowd after being named the NCAA North Central region Coach of the Year Friday. Libby led Iowa to their second-straight regional appearance and has led the GymHawks to back-to-back 10 win seasons.

“Considering the circumstances, I think this year was a tremendous success,” Libby said. “We had plenty of times to throw the towel in but this team wouldn’t go there. I think we’ve got a great future ahead of us.”

Final Team ScoresPlace   Team    Vault   Bars        Beam        Floor       Total1.  Florida 49.225  49.150      49.325      49.075      196.7752.  UCLA    49.425  49.125      48.650      49.425      196.6253.  Iowa St. 48.975 48.875      48.800      49.000      195.6504.  Denver  49.275  48.775      48.750      48.800      195.6005.  Minnesota   48.825  48.700      47.475      48.775      193.7756.   IOWA    48.900  48.750      48.175      47.800      193.625
Individual Results (Winner plus Iowa)Vault1. Jessica Lopez (DENVER) 9.950T14. Annie Szatkowski (IOWA) 9.825T18. Arielle Sucich (IOWA) 9.800T18. Rebecca Simbhudas (IOWA) 9.80028. Houry Gebeshian (IOWA) 9.75030. Rachel Corcoran (IOWA) 9.725T36 Jenny Donar (IOWA) 9.600=""http:>=""http:>=""http:>
Uneven Bars1. Anna Li (UCLA) 9.900T7. Rebecca Simbhudas (IOWA) 9.825T13. Houry Gebeshian (IOWA) 9.775T20. Brandi Loffer (IOWA) 9.750T31. Arielle Succich (IOWA) 9.700T31. Jessa Hansen (IOWA) 9.70040. Jennie Schurman (IOWA) 9.025=""http:>=""http:>=""http:"="">Houry Gebeshian (IOWA) 9.700T21. Jessa Hansen (IOWA) 9.675T28. Andrea Hurlburt (IOWA) 9.60030. Rebecca Simbhudas (IOWA) 9.57538. Brandi Loffer (IOWA) 9.300=""http:>=""http:>=""http:"="">Jessa Hansen (IOWA) 9.900T7. Rebecca Simbhudas (IOWA) 9.875T30. Houry Gebeshian (IOWA) 9.70038. Arielle Sucich (IOWA) 9.25040. Jenny Donar (IOWA) 9.075=""http:>=""http:>=""http:"="">Rebecca Simbhudas (IOWA) 39.07512. Houry Gebeshian (IOWA) 38.925=""http:>