GymHawks Kick Off Season At Cancun Classic

Jan. 2, 2012

The University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team will kick off its 2012 season Friday, Jan. 6 at the Cancun Gymnastics Classic in Cancun, Mexico. The Cancun Classic is a four day event showcasing some of the best international gymnasts of all ages. Collegiate competition will begin at 7 p.m. (CT) at the Hilton Cancun Beach and Golf Resort.

The 2012 Cancun Classic features a five-team field ranked highly in preseason polls. The Hawkeyes, who were ranked 25th in Troester’s Preseason Coaches’ Poll, will compete alongside No. 11 Arkansas, No. 12 Louisiana State, No. 17 Auburn and No. 19 Arizona. All five teams competed in 2011 NCAA Regional competition. The Arkansas Razorbacks advanced to the NCAA Championships.

A member of the Iowa gymnastics staff will offer interactive content live from every event throughout the season via the Official Iowa Gymnastics Blog. This feature gives diehard Hawkeye fans the opportunity to voice their opinion by submitting questions and comments, while receiving up-to-the-minute play-by-play, notes and stats about the meet and Hawkeyes. The live blog will begin approximately 15 minutes before each competition and run throughout the meet.

Senior Jessa Hansen and freshman Jessica Morreale have been named to the 2012 Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch list. Hansen was a first team All-Big Ten selection last season. She was also an Academic All-Big Ten pick and was the Iowa women’s gymnastics nominee for the Big Ten Sportsmanship award. She won six event titles, including four on floor exercise. Morreale, a native of DeKalb, Ill., was a five-time Junior Olympic National Qualifier. She claimed championships in the all-around, bars and floor exercise at the 2011 High School National competition. Morreale was the 2010 J.O. National beam champion and finished fourth on bars.

HEAD COACH Larissa Libby
Libby has a career record of 63-68-1 entering her eighth season at Iowa, with eyes set on a fifth consecutive NCAA postseason appearance, the sixth in her tenure. Libby coached the 2011 GymHawks to an 11-6 record and sixth place finish at the Big Ten Championships, this coming after a third place finish in 2010, their best finish in six years. Libby coached three all-Big Ten selections in Rebecca Simbhudas, Houry Gebeshian and Jessa Hansen. Simbhudas and Gebeshian also made individual appearances at the NCAA Championships as Simbhudas was named North Central Region Gymnast of the Year. Libby was named North Central Region Coach of the Year in 2009 for her efforts in guiding the GymHawks to a 10-5 record and a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Regionals. She was also named co-Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2008. Libby served as associate head coach in 2004 and assistant coach from 2001-03 at Iowa before being named head coach in 2005.

The GymHawks will return home to host Michigan State Jan. 13. Competition is slated to begin at 7 p.m. (CT). The Big Ten matchup will be the first of a two-meet home stand for Iowa.