All-Around Caitlin Brown heads to Alabama to seek “national treasure”


Junior Caitlin Brown competes in the vault on March 7 at Hilton Coliseum. Brown received a 9.775 for her vault in the Cyclones’ 195.925-192.775 victory against Iowa.

Max Dible

Caitlin Brown is headed to Alabama to test her luck against the best gymnasts from around the country at the NCAA Championships.

The championships will be April 18 in Birmingham, Ala. Brown will be the only ISU gymnast in attendance.

The ISU gymnastics team (5-11, 2-2 Big 12) saw its season draw to a close when it placed third at the NCAA Regional in Baton Rouge, La., on April 5.

While Iowa State was forced to head home until next year, Brown fought her way into the national conversation by taking fourth place in the overall competition on the strength of a 39.400 score.

“It feels pretty good,” Brown said. “I do not think it has really hit me yet. When it really hits me, I am going to be ecstatic.”

Brown said coming into the season getting to the championships on an individual level was not her primary goal, but she always knew there was a strong possibility that she would.

“Being an all-around [performer] … there are only two people who do it on every team,” Brown said. “I knew there was a good chance and that I could probably do it. It was definitely a goal, but the first goal was to get the team to [the championships].”

April 5 presented her with a lot of emotions between happiness about her personal success and disappointment that the team’s season was over, Brown said.

The season’s end marked the conclusion of the careers of six ISU seniors, all of whom Brown has competed with for the last three years.

“I am really excited to go [to the championships], but I am also losing six of my teammates, and they do not get to do this anymore,” Brown said. “They had a great run and as exciting as it is for them to move on to new chapters of their lives, it is sad too. It is kind of an in-between feeling right now.”

ISU gymnastics coach Jay Ronayne said he was thrilled for Brown, who has been an iron-woman of sorts for the Cyclones, competing in every event in every meet.

“[Caitlin] deserves this opportunity to compete with the best gymnasts in the country,” Ronayne said. “She went out there and earned it. She competed in every rotation for us this year. That says a lot about her.”

Brown’s success also makes it possible for the team to exist as it is for a little while longer, because even though Brown is the last woman standing, she said her teammates will not allow her to tumble solo at practice for the two weeks leading up to the biggest meet of her life.

“They are a great group of girls and I know they have got my back. I know they will be there to support me,” Brown said. “It is no fun to go into the gym by yourself everyday. You want to be with your friends … and it is a great feeling to know I have that support behind me.”

Brown said she has not yet gotten around to setting expectations or goals for herself at the NCAA Championships but is focusing on the details and on perfect repetition, employing the same mindset she has used all season.

“As far as goals like placings or scores, that is not really under my control — what the judges see in my routine,” Brown said. “As long as I go in there and hit my routines like I do every day in practice, that is all I can do.”