GymHawks Finish Third At Big Ten Championships

March 27, 2010

COLUMBUS, OH – The University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team finished in third place at the Big Ten Championships in Columbus, OH, Saturday afternoon. The Hawkeyes posted a season-high team score of 195.575 on their way to the best Big Ten finish the GymHawks have had in six years. Michigan won their fourth straight title with a team score of 196.900.

“Our success really wasn’t about stand-out performances and I think that’s what the greatest thing was,” said Head Coach Larissa Libby. “The girls stayed on each other the entire night and stuck together all the way through. As a coach, it was amazing to watch these twelve kids push each other to be the beast. We had mistakes, but it was like they never happened. The next person just jumped in, and that’s what we’ve worked for all year. It was spectacular; I don’t know another word for it.”

Iowa began on bars where they finished in third with a team score of 48.975. Rebecca Simbhudas led the Hawkeyes with a score of 9.850. The junior finished in a tie for fifth. Junior Houry Gebeshian and sophomore Jessa Hansen tied for 13th with scores of 9.800. Penn State took first on bars with a score of 49.350.

The GymHawks then moved to beam where they posted a phenomenal 49.200, Iowa’s highest team score in any event all season. Gebeshian won the individual title with a 9.950, a career best for her. Simbhudas tied for ninth with a 9.850 while Hansen, junior Andrea Hurlburt and sophomore Melissa Miller tied for 16th with scores of 9.800. Hurlburt’s mark is the best of her career. Michigan won the event with a 49.450.

“Houry’s beam routine was amazing,” said Libby. “In my mind, she’s been a Big Ten beam champion since the day she came to us. She’s been working extremely hard and it was great how everything came together for her. No other athletes were performing at the time, so it was neat for her to win the title when everyone in the arena could watch.”

Iowa placed fourth on floor with a 48.875 while Penn State took the title with a 49.300. Gebeshian led the team as she tied for sixth and set a career best of 9.850. Simbhudas scored a 9.825 and tied for 12th while senior Jenny Donar tied for 15th with a score of 9.800. Additionally, sophomore Emma Stevenson set a career best on floor with a 9.750.

The Hawkeyes finished on vault where they placed seventh with a score of 48.525 while Michigan took the crown with a 49.125. Simbhudas led the squad with a 9.800 as she tied for eighth. Sophomore Annie Szatkowski finished in a tie for 18th with a score of 9.750.

Iowa had two student-athletes on the podium for the all-around in Simbhudas and Gebeshian. Simbhudas place fourth with a 39.325 and Gebeshian tied for fifth with 39.275. Hansen finished in 13th after posting a 38.900.

“I was so proud of the team for turning heads and putting themselves in position to be a force to be reckoned with,” said Libby. “They showed intensity, tenacity, camaraderie and these girls were not going to be denied tonight. It was great, as a coach, to watch everything unfold and I couldn’t be more proud of these girls.”

Before Saturday’s championships, the 2010 all-conference teams were announced and Iowa was represented by three student-athletes, the second highest representation in the conference. Simbhudas was chosen for the first team while Gebeshian and Hansen are both second-team honorees. Hansen was also recognized as one of seven Big Ten Sportsmanship honorees.

Simbhudas is a three-year letterwinner for the GymHawks and has been a team leader in multiple ways. The Markham, Ontario, native has been named Big Ten Gymnast of the Week twice in her career and earned four all-around titles this season alone.

“Rebecca has been working on her own demons all season long and I think this honor is well-deserved,” said Libby. “The greatest thing is that this is the coaches’ selection, so it was a vote from all the coaches in the Big Ten. She started revamping her overall work ethic this summer and it’s paid off for her. It’s well deserved.”

Gebeshian and Hansen have multiple event titles as well this season, including three all-around titles between the two. While this is Hansen’s first all-conference honor, Gebeshian was selected to the first team in 2009, along with former gymnast and now volunteer coach Jenifer Simbhudas.

“I’m so proud of the three all-arounders and the job they’ve done stabilizing the team,” added Libby. “They’ve taken the burden upon themselves to lead this team and have been supported greatly by nine other kids. They all deserve it because without each individual, none of our team success would have come.”

The GymHawks are bound for regional competition, but the location they’ll be going won’t be announced until March 29. NCAA Regionals will be held April 10.

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