Iowa State heads to Baton Rouge to take on strong field in NCAA regionals


Jonathan Krueger/Iowa State Dail

Senior Camille Santerre-Gervais competes in the bars on March 7 at Hilton Coliseum. Santerre-Gervais received a 9.95 for her bars in the Cyclones’ 195.925-192.775 victory against Iowa.

Harrison March

They speculated. They waited. And finally, they were elated.

It’s been an up and down season for the ISU gymnastics team, but after its strong showing at the Big 12 Championship on March 22, the team knew its work was going to pay itself off with a trip to regionals. Only two questions remained: Where would they go and who would they face?

The Cyclones sat huddled around a TV in Beyer Hall on March 24, waiting to see where they were headed for postseason action. It wasn’t until the sixth and final host site was announced that Iowa State heard its name.

The Cyclones had their answers: Iowa State is headed to Baton Rouge, La. to take on Louisiana State University, Stanford, Auburn, Arizona and Kent State.

“The entire field is very, very strong,” said ISU coach Jay Ronayne. “The biggest challenge is just to do our job. That’s to hit routines that are worthy of a 9.8 or better and let the chips fall where they may.”

Coming off their highest meet score since 2007, the Cyclones know how important their goal of scoring at least 9.800 is. In the Big 12 Championship, Iowa State had 16 scores at or above that mark, which helped secure their place in regionals.

Selflessness played a key role in racking up those big scores, said senior Michelle Shealy, and that’s the attitude the team has to take south with it.

“That whole meet itself was all about the team. We backed each other up and fought until the end,” Shealy said. “I’m just really excited to go into this meet on a high, I think we’re going to do really well.”

That sentiment of team before self has gone a long way for the Cyclones down the stretch of the season.

As the end of the regular season approached and Iowa State was on the outside of the picture for regionals, it had two critical road meets left. Though the Cyclones had struggled away from Hilton and were thrown a curve ball with the injury of sophomore Sara Townsend, they found a way to regroup and take control of their own destiny.

“To struggle for a while and lose a key competitor to injury when Sara Townsend hurt her knee … we lost a lot of mental edge,” Ronayne said. “It took a while to be able to recover from that … like I said, we need to be doing our best gymnastics in championship season, and we are.”

Now faced with its third road meet in a row, and one that could potentially end the season, junior Caitlin Brown said she feels that the team is in the perfect place.

“Having such a rough and rocky season, then coming off and killing it at Big 12s, we’re on a roll now and there’s no stopping us,” Brown said. “I think they’re all great teams [at regionals] and it’s going to be a challenge, but I also think it’s something that if we go out there and we fight hard, who know what can happen.”