Simbhudas, Gebeshian Advance to NCAA Championships

April 2, 2011

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team finished fifth at the NCAA Corvallis Regional Saturday evening. In their fifth regional appearance in seven seasons, the 15th-ranked Hawkeyes posted a team score of 193.925. Seniors Rebecca Simbhudas and Houry Gebeshian qualified for the NCAA Champions as individuals in the all-around. Oregon State (197.025) and Nebraska (196.550) will advance as the top-two finishers in the Corvallis Regional.

“I thought we recovered well from a difficult first rotation and showed continued focus from there,” said Head Coach Larissa Libby. “Our upperclassmen showed fantastic leadership to regain control and finish strong.”

On top of a second-consecutive national berth, Simbhudas was selected as the North Central Region Gymnast of the Year. Additionally, assistant coaches Caleb Phillips and Linas Gaveika were named North Central Region Assistant Coaches of the Year.

“The all-region selections go to show the talent and ability of our team,” said Libby. “Rebecca has obviously done a great job for us, but Caleb and Linas are two of the best assistants in the nation.”

Simbhudas finished second in the all-around (39.325), punching a ticket to the NCAA Championships for the second time in her decorated career. The Markham, Ontario, native is currently ranked 13th in the nation as an all-around competitor. Gebeshian put together her best all-around performance of the season to finish third (39.300). Since the first place competitor, Leslie Mak (39.475), will already advance with Oregon State, Gebeshian will advance as an individual, marking her first trip to the championships. Additionally, junior Jessa Hansen finished 16th with a total of 37.650.

After a bye in the first rotation, Iowa started things off with a 47.325 on floor. Simbhudas led the effort with a score of 9.825 to tie for 15th. Gebeshian tied for 22nd with a mark of 9.800 while junior Annie Szatkowski posted a score of 9.650 to tie for 35th.

The GymHawks moved to vault in the third rotation where they finished third with a team score of 48.800. In her best event of the night, Szatkowski, along with Simbhudas, tied for seventh. The pair each posted a 9.800. Gebeshian tied for 13th with a score of 9.775 as Hansen earned a 9.725 to tie for 21st. Sophomore Maya Wickus also finished in the top-25 individually, recording a 9.700.

Iowa took another bye before competing on bars in the fifth rotation. With their best team mark of the meet, the Hawkeyes posted a 49.025, good for third place. Gebeshian led the way with a 9.850, tying for fifth place. Simbhudas also finished in the top-10 (T8th) with a 9.825. Sophomore Emma Stevenson (9.800) posted her highest mark of the night to tie for 11th. Freshman Tesla Cox and Hansen both tied for 16th (9.775) as senior Arielle Sucich tied for 19th with a 9.750.

“Arielle is part of a senior class that has been stellar all season,” said Libby. “It’s bittersweet because we’re happy for Rebecca and Houry, but half of the senior class will be at home during the championships. The seniors have been a special class and will definitely be missed.”

The Hawkeyes closed the meet on beam in the final rotation. With the 16th-best beam average in the nation, Iowa finished third with a team score of 48.775. With team highs of 9.875 apiece, Simbhudas and Gebeshian tied for second individually. Gebeshian’s mark was her highest of the season on beam. Szatkowski squeezed into the top-20 with a score of 9.725 as Cox tied for 25th with a 9.675.

While the GymHawks finished a historic season at the Corvallis Regional, Simbhudas and Gebeshian will represent the U of I as individual all-around competitors at the NCAA Championships April 15-17. The two seniors are the fourth and fifth student-athletes in program history to advance as individuals. Before Simbhudas’ trip in 2010, Katie Burke qualified in 2007 as Alexas Maday and Annie Rue advanced in 2002. The NCAA Championships will be held at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

“It will be difficult training for our two all-arounders because the team won’t be there,” added Libby. “This will be a familiar experience for Rebecca and a new one for Houry, so it will be the same championship but two very different experiences. Our team couldn’t be happier for them.”