March 24, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team recorded its third-highest mark of the season (195.425) as it finished seventh at the 2012 Big Ten Championships. Competing alongside Michigan, Michigan State and Illinois in the first session, the GymHawks placed third as Michigan (195.875) held the lead halfway through the championships. Nebraska won the second session and its first Big Ten title with a score of 197.100. Iowa hosted nearly 3,000 gymnastics fans inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena between the two sessions.
“For us, competing at home was amazing,” said Head Coach Larissa Libby. “It was definitely loud and what we have asked for all year long. We wanted our fans to understand that gymnastics is not a silent sport. The fans have value and a complete effect on what happens out there. They helped us to get through.”
The GymHawks began the meet on bars where they posted a score of 48.825. Junior Emma Stevenson paced the Black and Gold with a score of 9.850. The Winfield, Ill., native tied for eighth place in the event. Senior Jessa Hansen recorded a 9.800 to finish tied for 17th as freshman Emma Willis tied for 24th with a 9.775. Sophomore and second-team Big Ten honoree Tesla Cox posted a 9.725 to finish tied for 34th.
“It’s always good to start on an event that we’re really good at,” said Stevenson. “You start off well then you just have to keep rolling with the energy. Bars is a great event for us to start on. It was nice to start with a solid hit, and then keep it going onto beam.”
Moving to beam in the second rotation, Iowa recorded a team mark of 48.325. Hansen led the way for the GymHawks, posting a score of 9.800 to tie for seventh. Cox and senior Annie Szatkowski each tallied a 9.725 apiece and took home a share of 20th place.
“It wasn’t my best beam routine,” said Hansen. “I had one balance check, but I kept fighting all the way through. I was just trying to do my job, and get a solid score for our team.”
Iowa competed on floor in the third rotation, earning a 49.000 that would stand as the fourth-best team mark in the event. Stevenson shone with a 9.875 that earned her a share of second place. Her mark remained in first place midway through the second session’s third rotation until Nebraska’s final three competitors recorded a 9.900 apiece. With help from her floor performance, Stevenson was named to the 2012 Big Ten All-Championships Team.
“Emma Stevenson, she’s been amazing all year long,” said Libby. “She’s carried us the whole season, and she has done it without complaint or stress. I’m glad to see her rewarded.”
Hansen and Willis took home a share of 14th place with a score of 9.825 apiece as freshman Miranda Meyer earned a 9.750 to tie for 28th. Additionally, senior Rachel Corcoran tied for 33rd with a score of 9.725.
The GymHawks finished the championships on vault where they posted a 49.275, topping their previous season high by two-tenths of a point. They finished fourth in the team race as three gymnasts tied or set career marks. Stevenson and junior Maya Wickus each scored a 9.875 and tied for 10th place. Stevenson’s mark tied a career high as Wickus matched her season best. Corcoran, along with freshman Sydney Hoerr, tied for 15th with a score of 9.850. Both student-athletes set career marks with their performances. Additionally, Willis tied for 27th with a 9.825 and Hansen finished tied for 37th with a 9.775.
“We’re never done until the last person lands, so to make vault our best event says we’re mentally tough and we won’t give up no matter where we stand,” said Hansen. “We finished the meet out, and we’re proud of it.”
Iowa’s two all-around competitors, Hansen and Willis, finished tied for 10th and tied for 15th, respectively. Hansen recorded a 39.200 as Willis posted a career high of 39.075.
“I told my team at the end that I’ve never been more proud,” said Libby. “They’re a championship quality team. One more kid up and they’re hanging with the best. We’re going to qualify for the postseason. We’re going to qualify to the first round of the national tournament, and how many people can say that? I feel good about where we are.”
After all conference championships are complete, 36 teams in Division I women’s gymnastics will be selected to compete throughout six different regional sites, fighting for a berth in the NCAA Championship. Regional competitions will be held April 7.