Confidence carries Cyclones into NCAA Regional


Junior Michelle Shealy does a flip during her performance on the balance beam on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, against Minnesota. The judges awarded Shealy a final score of 9.850 out of 10.

Maddy Arnold

The ISU gymnastics team is more confident than ever heading into the regional meet this weekend.

Iowa State (5-12, 0-2 Big 12) will travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., on April 6, 2013 for its NCAA regional meet. The Cyclones will compete with five other teams with the top two moving on to the NCAA Championships.

“If we’re as sharp as we have been, we’re going to be competitive,” said ISU coach Jay Ronayne. “Our team has learned a lot in their time here. I think they’ve learned to be winners. That’s what we’ve trained for this season all the way through to the end. We’re peaking right now.”

In its regional meet, Iowa State will face No. 3 Alabama, the reigning national champion. The Cyclones will also compete against No. 9 Utah, No. 15 Denver, and No. 23 Kent State. 

The team has taken on Kent State once, winning 193.625 to 193.575 after being down by almost half a point going into the final rotation.

Although Iowa State has not competed against the other four teams in its regional yet this season, senior Elizabeth Stranahan said the team is excited for the Alabama regional.

“The Alabama regional is going to be some of the best [teams] in the nation,” Stranahan said. “There is supposed to be 14,000 people in the arena. … It’s a great arena to be in.”

To prepare his team for the crowds at Alabama, Ronayne has simulated meets while in practice. He said he wants them to feel the stress of competing and learn how to handle it, especially on balance beam and vault.

“We’ve actually been practicing kind of like meet situations where we’ll practice our 15-minute warm-up and then go to another event and then come back later to the event to do the competition setting,” said junior Michelle Shealy.

To be competitive with the teams at regionals, Ronayne said his team will have to meet the performance goals and target scores he has set. 

“The performance goals that we have set for ourselves are to hit six routines on every event,” Ronayne said. “We have target scores that we want: 9.85 or better from at least five athletes per event. That will keep us competitive enough that we are in the running to qualify for the next level.”