Cyclones, Converse set to face three teams at Mardi Gras Invitational

Head Coach Jay Ronayne talks to Sophomore Molly Russ before she stars her floor routine during the Iowa State, Iowa and Missouri tri-meet. the cyclones won with a team score of 196.700 points.  

Nash Vanbibber

No. 23 Iowa State will travel to St. Louis for the Mardi Gras Invitational. The Cyclones will meet Texas Women’s University, Southeast Missouri State and Lindenwood.

The Cyclones are back in the top 25. In 2018 the team finished the season at No. 24, the first time Iowa State has finished in the top 25 since 2014.

The Cyclones are eager to climb up the rankings and are looking forward to the Big 12 championships and the NCAA Gymnastics Championships.

Coach Jay Ronayne has been a part of the culture at Iowa State for 13 years. Ronayne helped coach gymnast Sydney Converse at the age of eight and helped recruit her to Iowa State.

This week the Cyclones face three teams which present more scoring and an opportunity to show how dangerous they can be in the Big 12.

Facing three teams is the same approach as a dual, Ronayne said. The challenge is that in the midseason, the athletes begin to get tired and exhausted, especially with schoolwork flowing in.

“The meets will continue to stack up,” Ronayne said.

The past couple of meets have seen the Cyclones set season-highs in points scored, both team and individually.

 “As a team, we try to keep away [from] being a number, we try and perform as a team and elevate each other as a whole,” Ronayne said. “Scores can vary from place to place, we are focusing more on routines and how many sticks we can get.”

Midseason is in full effect and with this comes challenges. The practices become more intense, long and mentally exhausting for the players.

“Every year brings new challenges, as a unit we have to overcome them,” Ronayne said. “We compete almost every weekend. Preparing for meets is the greatest challenge. We continue to train every day and continue to get better.”

The last time Iowa State and Lindenwood met, the meet came down to the wire. The final score of the meet was 195.975-194.300, resulting in a Cyclone win.

Lindenwood can accomplish anything, Ronayne said. During the meet, Lindenwood made mistakes that the Cyclones could pull out a win.

“Lindenwood is a great team and we are not overlooking them this week,” Ronayne said.

Even after 13 years of coaching the Iowa State women’s gymnastics team, Ronayne still enjoys the challenge of coaching every day.

“The most rewarding thing about this job is that I have the ability to recruit the next great gymnasts that this program has to offer,” Ronayne said.

Converse said she chose Iowa State due to how many people she knew here from Georgia, where she is from.

“I met Jay when I was eight and he taught me basically everything I know about gymnastics,” Converse said. “I was very comfortable around Jay and when it came to picking a college to go to there was one obvious choice, Iowa State.”

Last week against Southern Utah, Converse earned a high score of 9.800 on the balance beam. This was the second time Converse had competed in the bar event.

“I was nervous and excited performing on the balance beam,” Converse said. “I knew coming into the meet that I would be performing the beam, I was very confident in my abilities to compete and help the team get a win.”

Converse missed all of the 2018 season due to an injury. Converse tore her Achilles, which forced her to be in rehab for a full year.

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