Gymnasts shoot for better scores against Northern Illinois


Elizabeth Stranahan performs a routine on the balance beam during the Beauty and the Beast gymnastics and wrestling meet Feb. 8 at Hilton Coliseum.

Maddy Arnold

The ISU gymnastics team began its season 2-0, but has lost five consecutive meets since.

After the Jan. 11 win against Kent State, the Cyclones (2-5, 0-2 Big 12) have faced four top-25 teams and both conference opponents. Iowa State will face unranked Northern Illinois (3-2, 1-1 MAC) Feb. 15 at Hilton Coliseum.

“It’s nice to go against unranked teams,” said junior Henrietta Green. “It helps us push ourselves a little bit more knowing that we have to set the bar a little bit higher going against those teams.”

Despite earning season-high team overall scores in every meet this year, the Cyclones have not been able to win recently.

In the sport of gymnastics, however, scores are more important than records.

“Winning and losing aren’t as important as the score,” said senior Elizabeth Stranahan. “Personally, I focus less on the opponent and more on those scores that we’re trying to get to. No matter the opponent, we’re still going for those high scores, those nice landings [and] those hit routines.”

To improve their score, the Cyclones said they need to complete 24 routines against Northern Illinois without major errors. Mistakes like falls or stepping out of bounds can hurt their score.

However, executing the small details of each routine can be just as important for improving scores. Details like pointing toes and hitting handstands are what Iowa State has been focusing on in practice this week.

“As a team, I think we’re all working on the same thing,” Stranahan said. “We’re mostly hitting routines so we get to work on making our form better, making sure we’re getting things like handstands, making sure we have straight legs and pointed toes. All those things that make gymnastics look pretty.”

In addition to improving scores, ISU coach Jay Ronayne hopes that competing in only one meet this weekend will help the team’s confidence.

“If all goes according to plan, [this weekend] will be a confidence-booster,” Ronayne said. “I feel we will be scoring higher, and I think we’ll be a little stronger and we’ll be able to get a tiny bit of rest.”