Gymnasts top minimum at Big 12s, Brown sets personal record


Jonathan Krueger/Iowa State Daily

Junior Caitlin Brown competes in the bars on March 7 at Hilton Coliseum. Brown received a 9.825 for her bars in the Cyclones’ 195.925-192.775 victory against Iowa.

Harrison March

It was the most important meet of the year for the ISU gymnastics team, and it could not have come at a better time.

Heading into the Big 12 Championships on March 22, the Cyclones sat at 40th in the Regional Qualifying Score rankings, just four spots out of qualifying for regionals. To get into the top 36, Iowa State needed to score 196.025 or better.

That mark also happened to be the team’s season-high, set more than a month ago against conference foe West Virginia at Hilton Coliseum. This time, on West Virginia’s turf, the Cyclones broke that record.

“Just before the meet, I pulled the team aside and told them this would be our defining moment,” said ISU coach Jay Ronayne. “‘Our backs are against the wall,’ I told them. They responded the best way possible – just going out there and hitting it. I’m very, very proud of them.”

The Cyclones shattered the minimum score necessary by racking up a team score of 196.650, the highest meet score since the 2006-07 season. En route to doing so, Iowa State combined to tie or set 10 different career-highs.

In what has been a break-out season for Caitlin Brown, the junior capped off the regular season by setting a personal record of 39.350 in the all-around competition — good enough for second place in the conference.

Though her triumphs were monumental heading into the postseason, Brown said her focus was always on the team.

“My goal was to come out here and do what I needed to do to help our team. That’s always the goal, really,” Brown said. “We hadn’t been doing our job this year, but we went out and fought to the very end of it. This meet said a lot about who we are as a team and the heart we have.”

It was also a career day for senior Camille Santerre-Gervais, who tied her personal best on bars and set a new one on the beam.

Santerre-Gervais etched her name in the ISU record books when she tied the school record of 9.950 on bars earlier this season. When Santerre-Gervais earned that same score at the conference championship, she secured a spot in Big 12 history.

The Quebec native was crowned Big 12 Champion on the bars, and after the meet was named the Big 12 Event Specialist of the Year. Santerre-Gervais said her finish at previous championships played a key role in her success this season.

“Last year, I got second place and told myself I would work my butt off to win this year,” Santerre-Gervais said. “Our conference has some really good gymnasts, but I stayed motivated all year. It means so much, knowing that I finally got here.”

Though the individual accomplishments were plentiful, Ronayne said the biggest takeaway heading into the postseason was the team success.

“We needed a score that matched the highest of the season, and everyone knew what that would take,” Ronayne said. “We went out, we hit routines and we got the job done. There’s work to be done though. We’re ready to keep plugging away.”