2 Careers Ending in Style

April 13, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Two seniors on the University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team will end their careers at the best possible location — the NCAA Championships.

Rebecca Simbhudas and Houry Gebeshian will represent the GymHawks at the 2011 NCAA Championships, which runs April 15-17 at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Both gymnasts will compete in the all-around after qualifying for the championships at NCAA Regionals April 2.

Simbhudas, who was named the North Central Region Gymnast of the Year at NCAA Regionals, is no stranger to the biggest meet in college gymnastics. Simbhudas made her first trip to the NCAA Championships last season, where she earned All-America honors on beam.

Simbhudas said her experience at the NCAA Championships last season was a constant motivator during her senior campaign.

“It helped motivate me all season,” said Simbhudas. “Competing with the best was a motivation for the year.”

Going to the NCAA Championships was a new experience for Simbhudas last season, but she is ready for the challenge again.

“Last year was a little overwhelming because it was just me as an individual,” said Simbhudas. “I had no idea how to qualify for All-America. When Coach Libby told me I got it I was like ‘What? Really?’ I feel like I’ve gotten so much better this year. It should be another good experience.”

Gebeshian’s road to the NCAA Championships has been a little tougher. Last year at NCAA Regionals, Gebeshian’s all-around score was tied with other gymnasts looking to advance to the NCAA Championships. After two rounds of tie-breaking criterion, Gebeshian saw her chance to advance slip away.

Now that she has qualified, Gebeshian plans to soak in the experience.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Gebeshian. “It was so devastating the way I lost last year. It’s completely gratifying that I get to go now as a senior.”

Gebeshian hasn’t set any personal expectations for the NCAA Championships. She feels most confident when she doesn’t have those types of thoughts on her mind.

“I do the best when I’m relaxed and just do my thing,” said Gebeshian. “I’m not going in with any expectations. My plan is to do my routines, hit them, and if something good happens, it happens.”

Both Simbhudas and Gebeshian are glad to have each other to lean on during the NCAA Championships.

“She’s given me some tips on being at nationals,” said Gebeshian. “She’s kind of walked me through it, but she will be there to show me.”

“It helps a lot, because now it’s not just me,” said Simbhudas. “It’s pretty exciting for Houry because it’s a new experience for her. It’s going to be really fun with both of us being at nationals.”

Two seniors who have left a permanent mark on the Iowa program will see their GymHawk careers come to an end this weekend. But what a way to go out.

“I don’t know how it could get much better,” said Gebeshian. “This is pretty much the cherry on top.”