GymHawks Rely On New Leaders In Second Place Finish

Jan. 23, 2010

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA – The University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team took on Penn State, Yale and Cornell Friday, earning second place with a total team score of 192.175. The hosting Nittany Lions won the meet with a total score of 195.325.

With a depleted Black and Gold squad, Iowa Head Coach Larissa Libby was happy with some tough performances, but knows that everything needs to come together at the same time in order to reach the top.

“If we could get everyone to hit all of their events every night, it would be very helpful,” said Libby. “It’s disappointing when you consider what we are truly capable of accomplishing, but we’re getting there. It’ll be a constant climb up and they’ll get there, but I think it’s a slower climb than they’re used to.”

Juniors Rebecca Simbhudas and Kelly Galau led the GymHawks on vault as Iowa scored a team total of 48.050. Simbhudas scored a 9.800 and finished tied for fifth while Galau, a Hawkeye walk-on, finished tied for seventh with a score of 9.775.

In their most impressive event of the night, the Hawkeyes took second on bars with a score of 48.775, just behind Penn State’s 49.100. Junior Houry Gebeshian anchored the GymHawks as she tied for third with a score of 9.825. Freshman Emma Stevenson, sophomore Jessa Hansen and Simbhudas all tied for sixth with scores of 9.750.

“I thought the whole bar team was very, very good tonight,” said Libby. “Their attention to detail was very good. They made sure that all the things we’ve talked about in practice were done, and all of the girls just had clean routines in general.”

The Hawkeyes were guided by a strong group of walk-ons on the balance beam as Iowa scored a total of 46.875 in the event. Sophomore Melissa Miller and Galau, two walk-ons for the team, led the GymHawks with a couple of gutty performances. Miller placed fifth with a score of 9.650 while Galau tied for sixth with a 9.600.

“Melissa led off on beam for our team on the first event and it was the strongest we’ve seen from her so far,” said Libby. “It gets better every time she goes and Kelly Galau did a very nice job as well. If you want to talk about bleeding black and gold, we have a group of girls who chose to walk on that bleed black and gold. These girls come in here, put it all on the line and give everything they have every night. Not enough can be said about what they’re doing to help lead our team.”

The Hawkeyes scored a total of 48.475 on floor as they finished shy of Penn State’s 48.900. Iowa was led by Simbhudas who scored a 9.800 and tied for third while Hansen tied for fifth with a score of 9.750.

“I was happy to see the girls with a little more fire as the meet progressed,” said Libby. “We talked after our first event and knew that we needed to turn it up. They woke up too late and in gymnastics you just can’t make up that deficit. You have to come out of the gate firing on all cylinders and we weren’t. We were beaten by a better team tonight.”

With much work to be done before season’s end, Libby knows that she has a group of hard working athletes that are willing to do what it takes to make it to the top.

“We will continue to claw our way up through the rankings,” said Libby. “We’ll go back home and learn what we need to work on. We need to learn how to be physically tough and mentally focused, but most importantly we need to continue to get better.”

The Hawkeyes will return home Jan. 30 to host a Big Ten showdown against the Fighting Illini of Illinois. Competition will be held in Carver-Hawkeye Arena and is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. (CT).

Final Team Scores
Place Team Vault Bars Beam Floor Total
1. Penn State 49.500 49.100 47.825 48.900 195.325
2. IOWA 48.050 48.775 46.875 48.475 192.175
3. Yale 47.200 46.475 45.175 47.275 186.125
4. Cornell 47.875 45.975 46.425 45.475 185.750

Individual Results (Winner plus Iowa):
1. Brandi Personett (Penn State) 10.000
T5. Rebecca Simbhudas (Iowa) 9.800
T7. Kelly Galau (Iowa) 9.775
12. Rachel Corcoran (Iowa) 9.625
T15. Jenny Donar (Iowa) 9.525
19. Emma Stevenson (Iowa) 9.325
22. Jessa Hansen (Iowa) 9.175

Uneven Bars
1. Natalie Ettl (Penn State) 9.900
T3. Houry Gebeshian (Iowa) 9.825
T6. Emma Stevenson (Iowa) 9.750
T6. Jessa Hansen (Iowa) 9.750
T6. Rebecca Simbhudas (Iowa) 9.750
T9. Jordan Eszlinger (Iowa) 9.700
22. Kaitlynn Urano (Iowa) 8.750

Balance Beam
1. Brandi Personett (Penn State) 9.875
5. Melissa Miller (Iowa) 9.650
T6. Kelly Galau (Iowa) 9.600
12. Rebecca Simbhudas (Iowa) 9.250
T13. Kaitlynn Urano (Iowa) 9.200
15. Annie Szatkowski (Iowa) 9.175
22. Jessa Hansen (Iowa) 8.475

Floor Exercise
1. Brandi Personett (Penn State) 9.900
T3. Rebecca Simbhudas (Iowa) 9.800
T5. Jessa Hansen (Iowa) 9.750
T8. Rachel Corcoran (Iowa) 9.650
T8. Arielle Sucich (Iowa) 9.650
T10. Jenny Donar (Iowa) 9.625
16. Melissa Miller (Iowa) 9.400

1. Brandi Personett (Penn State) 39.575
3. Rebecca Simbhudas (Iowa) 38.600
6. Jessa Hansen (Iowa) 37.150