Resurgent senior leading Cyclones back into rankings


Katlyn Campbell/Iowa State Unive

Iowa State gymnast Sydney Converse competes during the bars competition at the gymnastics meet against Southern Utah University at Hilton Coliseum on Feb. 8. Converse scored a 9.800 during the bars competition. Iowa State won with an all-around score of 195.375, beating out Southern Utah with a score of 195.250. Iowa State had higher scores then Southern Utah in vault, bars, beam and floor.

Nash Vanbibber

The Iowa State women’s gymnastics team is back in the rankings.

The Cyclones are currently ranked No. 23, thanks in part to contributions from a senior returning from an Achilles injury.

In 2018 the team finished the season at No. 24, which was the first time Iowa State has finished in the top 25 since 2014.

Senior Sydney Converse missed all of the 2018 season due to an injury. Converse tore her Achilles and had to be in rehab for a full year.

Coach Jay Ronayne said the fact the Cyclones are ranked does not faze him.

“It’s great to be ranked, don’t get me wrong,” Ronayne said. “But it is not a big deal to me, I only like to say we’re ranked to potential recruits to join our team.”

The floor exercise is a work in progress, Ronayne said, but the team is performing at a high level.

“I like what I’m seeing because the girls are taking ownership of it,” Ronayne said. “We are currently on track for the Big 12 Championships.” 

Now that the women’s gymnastics team is on the map, they have a target on their back. But Ronayne and the team are not concerned.

“We can only focus on what we can control,” Ronayne said. “If a routine is done well it’s a hit.

“We have many talented women on this team, I am proud to be their coach.”

The team is currently 3-0 at home at Hilton Coliseum.

Ronayne has seen record crowds come to watch the women’s gymnastics team inside Hilton Coliseum. The top four attended meets in Iowa State history, including a record crowd of 7,732 against Oklahoma back on Feb. 8, 2013, have all come under the direction of Ronayne.

“It’s magic of course,” Ronayne said. “It’s always a pleasure to perform in front of our fans at Hilton, the crowd is a big advantage to us.”

Being ranked is in the rear-view mirror, said senior Sydney Converse. The bigger picture is the Big 12 Championships.

“It feels great to be ranked, our whole entire season we’ve been working hard to get to this point,” Converse said. “It’s great to see that the results are paying off, but we’re not satisfied yet. We want to place in the Big 12 championships and the NCAA Gymnastics championships as well.”

The preparation before a meet, Converse said, is that she has a daily ritual of going to Starbucks, Panera, stretching constantly and getting wrapped up.

I enjoy the practices very much,” Converse said. “I enjoy seeing all the girls and the coaching staff every day. Everyone pushes each other to get the best out of them.

“In practice, there’s always something to improve and every day is different which is exciting.”

Converse said she likes to take deep breathes and tries to release her inner fierceness during the meets. Converse thinks about the week of practice to help her try and get a perfect score at the meets.

“What pushed through that devastating injury was my teammates and coaches,” Converse said. “No one likes to be on the sidelines watching success while your off the floor, but my teammates and coaching staff helped me push back into this new season.”