GymHawks Open Season With Third Place Finish
Jan. 9, 2009
IOWA CITY, IA - The University of Iowa women's gymnastics team opened the 2009 season inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena Friday night, finishing in third place with a score of 191.375. No. 7 LSU won the tri-meet with a 194.175 while Southeast Missouri State came in second with a 191.675.
Senior Jenifer Simbhudas anchored Iowa, finishing second in the all-around with a 39.200 while sophomore Houry Gebeshian finished fourth with a 38.625. Gebeshian tied a career-high on vault with her score of 9.725. Susan Jackson of LSU won the all-around competition with a 39.350.
Iowa Head Coach Larissa Libby is glad to get the jitters of the first meet out of the way.
"I felt like we had some great moments out there tonight," said Libby. "We had some great performances and showed resilience, but in the end, a third place finish is disappointing. We've got a lot of work to do."
Several freshmen found their way into the lineup, none more impactful than Jessa Hansen. After a rocky start on uneven bars, Hansen bounced back to earn scores of 9.6 on beam and 9.775 on floor, good for sixth and fourth overall, respectively. Rachel Corcoran (vault), Melissa Miller (beam), Jennie Schurman (bars, floor) and Annie Szatkowski (vault) all saw their first action as Hawkeyes in Friday's tri-meet. In addition to the four freshmen, junior Andrea Hurlburt (beam) and Auburn transfer Becky Blahyj (vault) also competed for the first time in Black & Gold.
With nine freshmen and six sophomores on the roster, Libby knew there would be a lot of youth and inexperience entering the season, but getting the underclassmen competition time would be important for Iowa's future.
"We made some `young' mistakes tonight," Libby said. "Our freshmen are young and inexperienced on the collegiate level, but they are going to get better."
Simbhudas didn't seem to make too many mistakes Friday. The senior from Markham, Ontario and a reigning first-team all-Big Ten selection led Iowa on the vault, beam and floor. Libby is used to these performances from Simbhudas and feels the senior has something to prove this season.
"I think she should have won tonight," Libby said. "There aren't too many gymnasts who can do what she does. She is one of the best athletes out there and though she doesn't always get the credit, she's got the experience and in gymnastics, experience is everything."
The GymHawks will return to action next Saturday, Jan. 17, when they travel to East Lansing, MI, to take on Michigan State, Illinois State and West Virginia. The meet will be a broadcast by the Big Ten Network, showing Jan. 22 at 9 p.m. (CT).
Final Team Scores Place Team Vault Bars Beam Floor Total 1. LSU 49.425 48.225 47.675 48.850 194.175 2. SEMO 48.300 48.475 46.975 47.925 191.675 3. IOWA 48.200 47.100 48.425 47.650 191.375
Individual Results (Winner plus Iowa):