Freshmen preparing for ISU gymnastics’ intrasquad meet


Photo: Rebekka Brown/Iowa State Daily

Coach Jay Ronayne celebrates with Michelle Shealy after her 9.650 performance on the bars Friday, Jan. 27, at Hilton.The Cyclones defeated the Hawkeys 194.900-194.550 and will take on Denver next weekend at Colorado.

Harrison March

Shouts and cheers echo down the hall as they get ready for practice just a day before their preseason debut in the Cardinal and Gold Intrasquad Scrimmage.

For the first time in more than seven months the ISU gymnastics team gets to take the floor in Hilton Coliseum for competition Tuesday, Dec. 10. For the team’s freshmen, it is going to be a whole new experience.

“I’m nervous but excited at the same time,” said Allie Hansen, one of the team’s three newcomers and the only one slated to compete Tuesday. “I’m going to compete on everything but the bars, so it’ll be a good way to see where I’m at.”

ISU head coach Jay Ronayne, like the rest of his coaching staff, is looking forward to seeing Hansen compete in front of a crowd.

“This is a great way for her to get out there and get exposure,” Ronayne said. “I guarantee at one point she’ll have that ‘deer in the headlights’ look, but I want that [at the intrasquad meet] instead of the opener on Jan. 5. Allie’s turned that corner and showed us she belongs here, now she gets the chance to show her potential to the world.”

The team’s freshmen class isn’t just talent-heavy with Hansen, who prior to coming to Iowa State was a three-time qualifier for the Junior Olympics. The team’s other newcomers, Becca McRobbie and Lily Hardman, also saw success before beginning their collegiate careers. McRobbie was a four-time Junior Olympic qualifier and Hardman placed eighth in the All-Around competition at the Virginia state championships.

Unfortunately for the Cyclones, McRobbie and Hardman will be side-lined from the meet due to injuries. Hardman said, however, that’s not going to stop them from getting involved.

“For me, because I’m injured, it’s not as special,” Hardman said. “But even though I won’t be competing it will be a good way to get a taste. The fans are so good here and we’ll be sure to cheer loud with them.”

All three “rookies,” as the coaches call them, on this year’s team are from out-of-state. Hardman, from Virginia, credited the intangibles of the ISU gymnastics program with drawing her to Ames.

“The team is a family,” Hardman said. “At no other school I felt the chemistry that I do here. The second [the freshmen] got here there was so much chemistry. I know it’s a cliche to say that we’re sisters, but we genuinely are.”

Ronayne is happy with his team’s ability to mesh at this point in the year and emphasized how important that feeling of family is.

“That’s one of the things we pride ourselves on,” Ronayne said. “[The coaches] treat our athletes like our daughters, and I’m really happy to see them getting along so well this early. If they get to that [family] feeling while they’re here, that’s a great thing.”

Now that the time to step into the spotlight has arrived, the ISU gymnastics team is eager to turn some heads.

“Just seeing the excitement in practice tells the whole story. … They’re a bunch of show-offs,” Ronayne said laughing. “They finally get a chance to get into their element and show off a little bit. That’s the reason they do this stuff.”