Senior meet brings out best in Cyclones

Isaac Hunt

Full of season and career highs, the ISU gymnastics team recorded its highest score of the season in the seniors’ last home meet.

Seniors Michelle Browning (9.875) and Shea Anderson (9.800) both scored their season-high in their floor routines, leading Iowa State to a season-high floor score of 49.175.

Celine Paulus continued her high-scoring senior season with a career-high 9.900 for her performance on the uneven bars. The seniors left Hilton Coliseum on a high note after defeating No. 22 Minnesota (5-7, 1-6 Big Ten) 195.975-195.150. 

“I still feel like we’re coming back here,” Paulus said. “I feel like I’ll be here forever.”

Coach Jay Ronayne said when a gymnast leaves their sport, it is a bittersweet feeling. 

“It’s hard,” Ronayne said. “Your body’s pretty beaten up so in one sense it’s a relief. In another sense it’s, ‘OK what do I do now?’ In a way it’s an identity foreclosure.”

Many fans stuck around after the meet to watch a video of the seniors’ past performances and moments in their careers. All three seniors said “thank you” to their fans and supporters.

“The Cyclones are the best fans to compete in front of in the whole country,” Browning said. 

An emotional meet for the seniors without a doubt, but it wasn’t apparent by simply watching. Keeping their emotions in check surprised Ronayne perhaps more than anyone. 

“I can’t put it in words [how proud I am],” Ronayne said. “Knowing that this is the last time they’re competing in Hilton Coliseum, to be in control of their emotions through each event, impresses the heck out of me.”

The seniors each feel that they are capable of going to the NCAA Championships in April.

“We’ve proven to ourselves that we are a comeback team,” Browning said. “We love being in this position proving we’re better than what we were. We still have a lot of going up to do. In April, I want to be at nationals.”

Shea Anderson said if the team keeps doing what it is doing, then it will not be stopped. 

The Cyclones will face off against the Golden Gophers again in their next meet March 10 at 6 p.m. in Minneapolis.