April 4, 2009


 Courtesy of Iowa

IOWA CITY, IA – The University of Iowa hosted the NCAA North Central regional Saturday night inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, with the host Hawkeyes finishing in sixth place. The University of Florida won the regional with a score of 196.775 and qualified to the national competition April 16 in Lincoln, NE. UCLA also qualified to nationals after finishing in second place with a 196.625.

“Obviously, this was not the way we wanted to close out our season,” said Iowa Head Coach Larissa Libby. “As we have all season, I really felt we battled hard. The odds were stacked against us with some great teams here. While we couldn’t pull out a win, I couldn’t be more proud with the way we fought tonight.”

The storyline Saturday night for Iowa was the loss of senior Jenifer Simbhudas. For the second year in a row, Simbhudas saw her season end at regionals with an injury. This time, Simbhudas slipped on floor and suffered a knee injury in the third rotation and did not return. In her lone event of the night, Simbhudas scored a 9.625 on balance beam. Last season, Simbhudas was on pace to qualify for NCAA National Championships before suffering an injury on uneven bars.

Simbhudas will end her career as one of the most decorated gymnasts in Iowa history. She is one of only six gymnasts in school history to be named all-Big ten three times in her career. She was a second team all-Big Ten selection as a sophomore and was named to the first team last year and this year. In addition, Simbhudas has two of the best floor scores in Iowa history: a 9.95 in 2008 (tie for second all-time) and a 9.925 this year (tie for third all-time). This season, Simbhudas scored team-highs on vault, floor and in the all-around.

Iowa started the meet on balance beam, scoring a 48.175 as a team. Sophomore Houry Gebeshian led Iowa on the event, scoring a 9.7. After a bye, the GymHawks moved to floor and the crowd of over 1,700 was energized by a floor performance by Iowa freshman Jessa Hansen. Hansen scored a 9.900, which was Iowa’s best score of the night and good enough for a tie of third place. Additionally, sophomore Rebecca Simbhudas scored a 9.875 and tied for seventh place.

Freshman Annie Szatkowski was Iowa’s top performer on vault, scoring a 9.825 and tying for 14th place. R. Simbhudas showed some moxie in wake of her older sisters’ injury, scoring a 9.8 and tying for 18th place. Sophomore Arielle Sucich also received the same mark. And after not competing on vault all season, junior Jenny Donar stepped up in Simbhudas’ place to score a 9.6.

Iowa would close their season out on uneven bars, led by R. Simbhudas’ score of 9.825. Gebeshian tied for 13th place with a 9.775, while senior Brandi Loffer, also competing in her final collegiate event, scored a 9.750 (20th place).

Despite the loss, Iowa’s younger class shined Saturday night. R. Simbhudas (39.075) and Gebeshian (38.925), both sophomores, finished in 11th and 12th place, respectively, in the all-around. The underclassmen showed the future is filled with promise, with two freshmen leading Iowa on two events (Hansen on floor, Szatkowski on vault), and sophomores Simbhudas and Gebeshian were Iowa’s top performers on bars and balance beam, respectively.

At the conclusion of tonight’s meet, Libby was honored by the crowed after being named the NCAA North Central region Coach of the Year Friday. Libby led Iowa to their second-straight regional appearance and has led the GymHawks to back-to-back 10 win seasons.

“Considering the circumstances, I think this year was a tremendous success,” Libby said. “We had plenty of times to throw the towel in but this team wouldn’t go there. I think we’ve got a great future ahead of us.”


Final Team Scores

Place       Team                        Vault                Bars                 Beam               Floor                Total

1.            Florida          49.225             49.150             49.325             49.075             196.775

2.            UCLA           49.425             49.125             48.650             49.425             196.625

3.            Iowa State     48.975             48.875             48.800             49.000             195.650

4.            Denver          49.275             48.775             48.750             48.800             195.600

5.            Minnesota     48.825             48.700             47.475             48.775             193.775

6.            IOWA          48.900             48.750             48.175             47.800             193.625


Individual Results (Winner plus Iowa)


1.     Jessica Lopez (DENVER)                        9.950

T14.        Annie Szatkowski (IOWA) 9.825

T18.        Arielle Sucich (IOWA)                    9.800

T18.        Rebecca Simbhudas (IOWA)          9.800

28.   Houry Gebeshian (IOWA)         9.750

30.   Rachel Corcoran (IOWA)                      9.725

T36 Jenny Donar (IOWA)                 9.600


Uneven Bars

1.     Anna Li (UCLA)                          9.900

T7.  Rebecca Simbhudas (IOWA)      9.825

T13.        Houry Gebeshian (IOWA)  9.775

T20.        Brandi Loffer (IOWA)                    9.750

T31.        Arielle Succich (IOWA)                  9.700

T31.        Jessa Hansen (IOWA)                     9.700

40.   Jennie Schurman (IOWA)          9.025


Balance Beam

1.     Corey Hartung (FLORIDA)          9.950

T19.        Houry Gebeshian (IOWA)  9.700

T21.        Jessa Hansen (IOWA)                     9.675

T28.        Andrea Hurlburt (IOWA)   9.600

30.   Rebecca Simbhudas (IOWA)      9.575

38.   Brandi Loffer (IOWA)               9.300


Floor Exercise

1.     Jessica Lopez (DENVER)                        9.925

T3.  Jessa Hansen (IOWA)                9.900

T7.  Rebecca Simbhudas (IOWA)      9.875

T30.        Houry Gebeshian (IOWA)  9.700

38.   Arielle Sucich (IOWA)                9.250

40.   Jenny Donar (IOWA)                 9.075



1.     Jessica Lopez (DENVER)                        39.600

11.   Rebecca Simbhudas (IOWA)      39.075

12.   Houry Gebeshian (IOWA)         38.925