Cyclones will travel to NCAA Regionals in Ann Arbor


Photo:Rebekka Brown/Iowa State Daily

Jody McKellar participates in the uneven bars during the Beauty and the Beast event held Jan. 21 at Hilton Coliseum.

Dylan Montz

For the No. 21 ISU gymnastics team, the entire season has been building up to the NCAA Regional competition, and that apex comes Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Cyclones (8-7-2, 1-3 Big 12) will be competing against No. 4 Stanford, No. 9 Michigan, No. 16 Ohio State, No. 23 Minnesota and No. 24 Kent State. This will be the largest competition Iowa State has seen all season, so the goal for the team this week was to focus on the task at hand while also having fun to calm nerves.

ISU coach Jay Ronayne has been stressing the importance of having solid performances on balance beam as well as vault all week. With the vault competition being at the end of the meet, Ronayne said strong performances are even more important. 

“The nature of a gymnastics meet is that scores will slightly escalate by the end of the meet, so we have to hit some solid vaults,” Ronayne said.

The practice week leading up to the regional meet is a relatively short one for Iowa State. The team had practices Monday and Wednesday with a traveling day Thursday. There will also be an opportunity for the Cyclones to have a practice round Friday in Ann Arbor, but the majority of the preparations was worked on earlier in the week.

Senior Jody McKellar has noticed that this week especially, the team has grown even closer.

“The team bonding has gotten a lot better, and the energy in the gym seems a lot stronger than it was at the beginning of the season,” McKellar said. “Everybody is there for everybody, and everyone has a positive attitude about this competition.”

The Cyclones expect the intensity and energy levels to be ramped up this weekend with the amount of people that will be in attendance. The team says that it plans to use this energy on bars, its first event, and come out with “guns blazing,” as Ronayne has been telling them.

With the down time the Cyclones will have during the byes throughout the meet, Ronayne said that the team will “try to recapture being a kid again and the feeling of pure love for the sport.”

The competition is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Saturday at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich., with the top two scoring teams advancing to the NCAA Championships.