Jan. 13, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa - The University of Iowa women's gymnastics team opened its home season in Carver-Hawkeye Arena with a 193.225-190.175 win over Michigan State Friday evening. On the way to their first win of the season, the GymHawks bested the Spartans in three events and crowned an all-around competitor in freshman Emma Willis.
"Tonight's performance wasn't our best but it's still early and we were able to learn some things," said Head Coach Larissa Libby. "I saw positive things throughout our lineup. When an individual struggled on an event, the team didn't panic but stepped up and did what they needed to do."
After earning Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors with her performance at the Cancun Classic, Willis posted an all-around score of 38.775 against Michigan State. The Sarnia, Ontario, native finished in the top-four on bars, beam and floor as she led the Hawkeyes to a 1-0 mark in Big Ten action.
"Emma is the most conscientious work we have and it's great to see that pay off," said Libby. "Any mistake made truly kills her inside because she wants what's best for the team. That's all you could ever ask for from a student-athlete, so it's great to see her succeed."
Iowa moved to bars in the second rotation, topping Michigan State 48.150-46.950 and sweeping the top four places individually. Juniors Emma Stevenson and Kaitlynn Urano took home a share of the event title with a 9.800 apiece. Senior Jessa Hansen finished third with a 9.725 as Willis scored a 9.700 to finish fourth.
In the third rotation, Iowa competed on beam and posted a score of 48.000. Hansen won the event with a 9.825 as the Hawkeyes swept the top three individual places. Cox finished second with a 9.700 and Willis tied for third with a mark of 9.625.
The GymHawks' best event score came on floor where they beat the Spartans 48.800-48.450. Willis and Stevenson each posted a 9.800 and tied for second. Hansen placed fourth with a 9.750 while senior Rachel Corcoran and freshman Sydney Hoerr tied for fifth with scores of 9.725.
The GymHawks will remain at home for a co-ed meet against Illinois Jan. 21. Competition will take place in Carver-Hawkeye Arena and is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. (CT).
"There's a ton of room for improvement and we'll continue working to get better," said Libby. "In order to be competitive, we need to hit 24 of 24 routines and we'll work until we're able to do that."