March 24, 2010
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Editor’s note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Wednesday, Aug. 12, highlighting one athlete from each of the 24 intercollegiate sports offered by the University of Iowa. More than 700 talented student-athletes are currently busy preparing for the 2009-10 athletics year at the UI. Hawkeyesports.com will introduce you to 24 Hawkeyes who, for one reason or another, are poised to play a prominent role in the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI in the coming year.
By David Meyer
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Coming out of high school in Newton Mass., gymnast Houry Gebeshian saw that Iowa was a university where she could reach her full potential, both academically and athletically.
“The athletic training program is really, really good here,” said Gebeshian, a junior for the Hawkeyes. ” I was looking into athletic training. Everything just fit really well with great gymnastics and great athletic training.”
UI head coach Larissa Libby also saw aptitude in Gebeshian, including some intangible characteristics that are innate within certain athletes.
“I liked Houry’s competitive nature, that drive,” said Libby. “She excels in competition and it’s very obvious watching her train versus competing that she brings it up a notch. You can’t teach that; that’s something that’s there already.”
Last season Gebeshian competed on every event in every meet for the Hawkeyes, taking first place in the all-around four times. She characterized her collegiate career as a success to this point.
“It’s been a great experience. I’ve loved it every step of the way,” said Gebeshian.
Of the 44 events in which she competed in 2009, Gebeshian scored below a 9.7 a mere four times. She scored higher than a 9.7 on vault in every meet. Her consistent excellent performances led to a first team all-Big Ten selection.
“I actually had no idea what that was until I got the award,” Gebeshian said. “Coach Libby explained to me that it was a huge honor and I was like, `Wow, that’s great.'”
Libby agrees that Gebeshian is deserving of the recognition, as she has overseen her impressive personal development during her time at Iowa.
“I liked Houry’s competitive nature, that drive. She excels in competition and it’s very obvious watching her train versus competing that she brings it up a notch. You can’t teach that; that’s something that’s there already.”
UI head coach
“I think she’s really figured out how she needs to deal with people on an individual basis, how she needs to conduct herself in order to be respected by everybody, and she’s done a really excellent job of growing, not just as a gymnast, but as a total person,” said Libby.
Gebeshian received another significant accolade in 2009. She was additionally named to the academic all-Big Ten team. The integrative physiology major obviously has a handle on all aspects of her life.
“Being a collegiate athlete, I think the biggest challenge is just being able to balance everything,” said Gebeshian. “It’s really hard balancing gymnastics and school and social life, but I think being a student athlete is great. I figured it out and I learned how to manage it.”
While the hectic school and gymnastics schedules may sometimes be stressful, Gebeshian is always able to keep her cool. Libby thinks this quality has enabled her to become a leader on the team.
“Houry’s very vocal,” Libby said. “She’s not overbearing and she’s not one of those people that are constantly in your face, but she’s settling. Everyone feels better because she’s there. Her confidence and determination rub off on everyone else.”
In 2010, the Hawkeyes got off to a bit of a rocky start. Gebeshian is looking to turn the misfortune around with her positive attitude and dedication.
“We’re trying to just work hard and get people ready to get going.” Gebeshian said. “We’re starting to pick some momentum and getting better, so hopefully by the end of the season we’ll be at our peak.”
The Hawkeyes followed up back-to-back losses in late February with consecutive wins in early March, before falling to No. 10 LSU on March 12, despite posting a season-high 195.400 points.
“This has been an interesting season for us,” Libby said. “We’ve been thrown hurdle after hurdle, whether it be illness or injury. We’ve just not had a complete team the entire season.”
Gebeshian thinks the pieces are all finally there, the Hawkeyes just have to put them all together.
“We have the skills, we have the routines,” Gebeshian said. “Once we start hitting and figuring out how to compete, I think we’re going to get the confidence and be at the level to be competitive at regionals and hopefully make it to nationals.”
The Hawkeyes will try to rebound from a 195.125-193.625 setback at Southeast Missouri State on March 19 when they compete at the Big Ten championships Saturday, March 27, in Columbus, Ohio. Competition will be held in St. John Arena and is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. (Iowa time).