Improvements carry gymnasts to home victory


Sara Townsend performs on the floor on Feb. 15 at the Hilton Coliseum in Iowa State’s win against Northern Illinois.

Maddy Arnold

The ISU gymnastics team has been struggling all season to complete routines without major errors. Making small improvements to individual routines led to a win for the Cyclones on Friday — but they are not satisfied yet.

Iowa State (3-5, 0-2 Big 12) defeated Northern Illinois (3-3, 1-2 MAC) 195.175 to 194.375 and have set a new season-high overall team score in every meet this season.

“We’ve been pushing to build scores throughout the season anyway,” said ISU coach Jay Ronayne. “Hitting routines is probably our most important goal right now. We’re still not hitting six routines on every event. We’re getting closer to it.”

Iowa State also scored season-high marks on the uneven bars with a 48.875 and on the floor exercise with a 49.025, which is also the highest event score of the season.

The gymnasts said they continue to improve their scores this season because of small changes they made against Northern Illinois.

“I thought we were more aggressive and we hit more of our landings,” said freshman Alex Marasco.

Although the Cyclones made changes in Friday’s meet, they said they want to continue improving their scores this season.

“We keep working hard in the gym and we’re ready to come back next week and keep building on our scores and keep doing better and better,” said freshman Sara Townsend. “But we keep doing better, so I think our coaches are happy with that.”

In addition to improved scores, Iowa State saw the return of two gymnasts who have been out of the lineup due to concussion-like symptoms.

Sophomore Caitlin Brown, an all-around gymnast, performed on vault and scored a 9.700 in her first competition since the season-opener.

Freshman Kristen DeCosta also competed for the first time since that meet, which was a win against Kent State on Jan. 11. She scored a 9.025 after a fall off the uneven bars.

“I think it brought a little bit of energy to the team knowing that we have the potential to get these injured athletes back in,” Ronayne said. “Both are running on roughly two days of practice after being out for quite a long time. So there’s a lot of things they still need to accomplish to be in top form again.”