Gymnastics sees improvement, tallies first win


Jonathan Krueger/Iowa State Dail

Junior Caitlin Brown competes in floor in the meet with Michigan and Illinois State on Jan. 10 at Hilton Coliseum. Brown scored a 9.875 in floor in the second place finish behind Michigan.

Harrison March

For the ISU gymnastics team, Friday’s tri-meet against Michigan and Illinois State was about maturity. How would the Cyclones respond to dropping their season opener just five days before?

Pretty well, according to head coach Jay Ronayne.

“Plan A was to win [the season opener] and proceed from there. When that didn’t happen, well, we felt ‘Where do we go from here?’” Ronayne said. “[The team] stepped right up and said, ‘They didn’t beat us. We beat ourselves and now we’re going to take things into our own hands.’ And that’s just what they did. They went out there and hit the routines.”

The Cyclones (1-2, 0-0 Big 12) saw improvement across the board as all nine competing gymnasts improved at least one score from the first meet against No. 15 Penn State. Four ISU gymnasts also set new personal highs on various events: junior Caitlin Brown on bars (9.800), floor exercise (9.875) and all-around (39.125); senior Milan Ivory on beam (9.725); sophomore Kristen DeCosta on floor exercise (9.825); senior Megan McDonald on floor exercise (9.750).

The star of the show, however, was Michigan’s Joanna Sampson, a senior. Sampson won the all-around competition with a score of 39.325 and placed in the top two on vault, beam and floor exercise. Sampson’s stellar performance propelled the No. 7 Wolverines (2-0, 0-0 Big 10) to a final mark of 196.525 and ultimately the victory. The Cyclones finished second with 195.600, followed by Illinois State with 187.400.

Though Iowa State didn’t win the meet overall, Ivory was happy with her team’s progress, but still sees areas for growth.

“I think we’re pretty satisfied with how we did and the improvements we made from last week,” Ivory said after helping Iowa State tally its first win of the season. “We still have things we can improve on though. On beam it’s just working on sticking that dismount and trying to reduce the wobbles.”

Brown, who tied a team record with a score of 9.875, thinks that, on top of technical improvements, the Cyclones just have to let loose and have fun.

“It’s just a matter of staying relaxed and having a good time,” Brown said. “When we’re silly and crazy and having fun we do better. That’s how we are in the gym and that’s how our personalities are, so when we’re acting natural like that we do much better.”

With Friday’s match-up against their best opponent yet looming, Ronayne thinks his squad has a shot at heading south to upset the No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners.

“It comes down to not giving up those tenths of points on landings,” Ronayne said. “We just have to stick some vaults, stick some bar dismounts nail routines again and keep doing things the way we’re doing them. That’s all it’ll come down to.”