Cyclones post season-high, beat Missouri


Photo: Zunkai Zhao/Iowa State Da

Michelle Shealy participates in the balance beam during the Friday, Jan. 7 meet with Auburn at Hilton Coliseum. Shealy helped the Cyclones defeat the Tigers 193.475 – 192.775.

Chris Cuellar

The Cyclones used five scores at or above 9.850 to fuel a 195.250-194.550 victory over Missouri at the Beauty and the Beast event on Friday night.

Coach Jay Ronayne’s squad used season-high scores on vault, uneven bars and the floor exercise to put together a season-high total.

For the first time this season, Iowa State’s all-around performer Michelle Browning didn’t win the overall individual scoring, but her teammates pulled great scores together to complement the junior.

“This is exactly the way we scripted it from the beginning, so it bodes well for the near future and it feels great to have a W,” Ronayne said.

Freshman Michelle Shealy finished just 0.075 points behind Missouri’s all-around winner, Mary Burke, but put together a solid evening in her third meet for the Cyclones.

Shealy’s clean 9.875 routine on the balance beam only was outshone by senior Jody McKellar’s 9.900 on the uneven bars.

The score tied her career best and posting the total so early in the season leaves big aspirations for the rest of the season.

“I’ve never felt so excited, the crowd right from the beginning kept us energized,” McKellar said. “I did one 9.9 routine last year but I felt like this one was more solid than that one. I was really happy with it.”

McKellar also won the Marie-Rae Sopper Outstanding Performer award for the meet.

Browning, Iowa State’s high scorer coming into the meet in three out of the four events fell on the balance beam, dropping Iowa State’s total, but recovered with a meet-high 9.800 on the floor exercise to close out.

“She is just a very focused athlete, which is what sets her apart from everybody else,” Ronayne said of the junior. “Some kids, just because they are a superior athlete they can get away with stuff, they might not have the mental edge that Michelle has. That’s her advantage. She can just shut off any mistake and move on.”

The 5,970 fans in attendance for the Beauty and the Beast event was the second largest crowd to ever see an ISU gymnastics meet.

“We just warned [freshmen] about how many people there would be but they did a great job and they were ready for it,” Browning said.

The young team relied on the freshmen to come up big to boost the total on Friday. Shealy, Camille Santerre-Gervais and Hailey Johnson all posted career highs in their third meet, a testament to the squads focus in the busy environment.

“We love it and we tell the girls that haven’t experienced it before that this is an amazing event,” Ronayne said. “It’s an electric atmosphere, it’s all about you, and so they already know that before they walk in here. Once they walk in here, it’s like ‘Dang!’, they love it.”

The Cyclones are heading to Utah next week for a quadrangular, and return home for Big 12 action against Oklahoma on Feb. 11.