Michelle duo similar in more than just the name

Dylan Montz

All season long, the ISU gymnastics team has had a variety of team leaders in different meets.

Whether the top performers are seniors Jody McKellar, Jacquelyn Holmes Alex Grant, junior Celine Paulus or freshman Camille Santerre-Gervais, they all have produced big scores for the Cyclones and led their team to victories.

Perhaps none, however, have done so on a more consistent basis than junior Michelle Browning and freshman Michelle Shealy. The two Michelles have won several individual meet titles this season as well as earning Big 12 Conference honors multiple times.

Shealy, a true freshman, won at least one event title in the first seven meets the Cyclones participated in. The Snellville, Ga. native is currently ranked 25th in the nation in the all-around competition.

Browning has become a leader and captain on the Cyclone gymnastics squad, and it shows in her performances. This season, the Houston, Texas native has won the all-around and floor titles against Auburn, the all-around and beam against Nebraska, the floor competition against Missouri as well as tying for the all-around and bars titles at a quadrangular in Utah. Recently, Browning has also won the floor title against Iowa and at Minnesota.

Even with all of the accolades these two Cyclones have received this season, ISU coach Jay Ronayne said they are all about improving themselves and their team, and the success they have achieved individually hasn’t gone to their heads.

“The Michelles are very similar,” Ronayne said. “They are both very well-grounded people and very much into doing the right things. They aren’t the party kids, and they both have very solid character.”

Ronayne also noticed similarities in the recruitment of each student athlete. In both cases, Ronayne said their parents were “very supportive in recruitment” but let each make their own decision that would be the right one for them.

The Michelles both knew that when it came time to decide where to attend school, they were making the right choice with Iowa State.

Especially in Browning’s case, her family was leaning toward her choosing the Cyclones because of the comfort they had in knowing that Ronayne would be her coach.

“A lot of parents don’t usually let their child make that kind of big decision on their own, and that’s a big deal,” Ronayne said.

As for any “rivalry” or “competition” between the Michelles, Ronayne says that it is all in fun and they are always wanting and working to make each other better. They are all about the team. The Michelles echo those thoughts.

“[Browning] was my host for both of my recruiting visits, so we are really close, and I’ve gotten to know her from that,” Shealy said. “There really are no major competitions or rivalries between us. We are friends and we both try to do our best. We do push each other a little bit, but it is all fun.”

Browning also had friendly remarks about her fellow all-around athlete.

“She’s a hard worker, and I like training with her in the gym because she is consistent and pushes the whole team to do really well,” Browning said.

Shealy has also been able to learn a lot from Browning this year about how to transition into collegiate competition and deal with the new experiences this level brings.

“She was in my situation with being able to be in the lineup early on and over the past few years, she has had experience and has been able to encourage me along the way,” Shealy said.

Whether it is in practice or in competitions, the Michelles will continue to work with and make each other better so they can lead the Cyclone gymnasts to more victories.

“It’s really nice to have someone else who is giving those quality performances all of the time, and she pushes me to do better for sure, but there really is no rivalry between us. And if there is, it’s all friendly for sure,” Browning said.