Iowa Women's Gymnastics Team Upsets Michigan
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The University of Iowa women's gymnastics team knocked off No. 7 Michigan inside the UI Field House Saturday evening, 195.375-194.900. In front of a standing room only crowd, The No. 17 Hawkeyes topped the Wolverines in three of four events and crowned two champions in senior Rebecca Simbhudas (bars) and junior Jessa Hansen (floor). This marks Michigan's first loss of the year and Iowa's first win over the Maize and Blue in 11 attempts.
"It was great for us to prove that we can hang with a team like Michigan who is the best in the Big Ten and one of the best in the country," said Head Coach Larissa Libby. "My hat goes off to Michigan, they're a superb team and they have been for years. We've been gunning for this team for a long time and to be able to get them at home is an incredible feeling."
The Hawkeyes were led by Simbhudas, who finished second in the all-around competition with a score of 39.325. Hansen placed third with a 39.150 while senior Houry Gebeshian placed fourth, scoring a 39.025. Hansen's all-around finish tied a career mark she set two weeks ago at Minnesota.
"I couldn't be more happy or excited," said Simbhudas. "All the doubts everyone had about us were silenced when we came out tonight and proved that we're the team to beat. It's really exciting to beat the returning Big Ten champions, so to do it in front of a home crowd couldn't be better."
Iowa began the night on vault where they fell to Michigan, 48.725-49.250. Simbhudas led the way with a score of 9.800, good for a share of fourth place. Gebeshian tied for sixth with a 9.775 while Arielle Sucich (9.750) placed eighth.
The GymHawks moved to bars where they posted their highest score of the meet and topped the Wolverines, 49.025-48.300. Simbhudas won the event and set a career high with an impressive 9.900. Gebeshian tied for third with a 9.825 while sophomore Emma Stevenson and Hansen tied for fifth with scores of 9.775.
"The teamwork, intensity, mentality and focus that tonight's win took was amazing," added Libby. "We didn't have a great meet. It wasn't perfect and there's a lot of room for improvement, but the focus of this team and the determination not to let it go was unbelievable. It just goes to show all of the hard work they've put in so far."
Iowa came away with a 48.625-48.450 win on beam in the third rotation. Simbhudas led the Black and Gold, once again, with a score of 9.825. The Markham, Ontario, native tied for second place. Hansen and freshman Tesla Cox each posted a 9.725 and tied for sixth as Gebeshian and senior Andrea Hurlburt tied for eighth with scores of 9.675.
The Hawkeyes ended the night on floor where they beat Michigan, 49.000-48.900. Hansen set a career mark and won the event with a 9.925, the highest score she's recorded in any event throughout her career. Simbhudas tied for third with a score of 9.800 and Stevenson placed sixth with a career best of 9.775. Gebeshian and junior Annie Szatkowski tied for seventh on floor with scores of 9.750.
After an incredible upset at home, the Hawkeyes will hit the road for a Big Ten matchup against Illinois in Champaign, IL, Jan. 29. The Iowa men's gymnastics team will also take on the Fighting Illini as part of another co-ed meet. Competition is scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. (CT) inside Huff Hall.
"Our goal every week is to improve on our team score from the past event and we've been able to do that so far this year," added Simbhudas. "A win over Michigan is great, but now it's time to focus on improving tonight's score and getting another win at Illinois."