Media day filled with high expectations for Iowa State gymnastics

The Iowa State gymnastics team huddles together before its meet against Northern Illinois University on March 12 at Hilton Coliseum.

Christian Royston

With less than a month left until the first meet of the 2022 season, the Iowa State gymnastics team is buckling down and working hard to come out and prove how good it has become.

Coming off a fourth-straight top-25 ranked season and putting on some historical performances, expectations are at an all-time high.

The Cyclones definitely have the talent to meet those expectations, and that topic was on top of most gymnast’s minds at media day on Wednesday.

Iowa State finished ranked 21st in the nation last year and lost no one from that team.

Senior Maddy Langkamp said bringing back all of the pieces that helped bring success a season ago is huge for the program.

“The talent on this team is unreal, and the fact that we didn’t lose people from last year is even better,” Langkamp said.

Head Coach Jay Ronayne is confident that this year’s talent is something special. Coming off a ranked season, improving is not out of the question.

“From a performance standpoint, they will be better than last year. And last year was pretty darn good,” Ronayne said.

The 2021 season had many historic performances and ended with an NCAA Regional performance. However, this year the Cyclones have nationals in sight. They have been putting in the work and are ready to come out hot in January.

“There has been a lot of growing over the past few years, so this is the best team that I have ever had here at Iowa State. It’s the most talented team that I have ever coached,” Ronayne said.

A lot of the talent of this team comes from the freshmen class and the depth the team has at each event. With the arrival of many talented freshmen, there is a lot to be excited about this season. 

Many incoming freshmen need up to a year to get acclimated and compete at the college level. This year’s crop of freshmen has the talent to make waves early on.

“This class is a rarity… I expect them to be competing a lot and competing well a lot,” Ronayne said. “I have high hopes for this freshman class. They do some super exciting gymnastics, and they are building what is going to be the next version of us.”

Of course, it is hard to look toward the future, but it is safe to say that the freshmen will be a great addition to the team. Not only are they talented, but the upperclassmen are working hard to help with their transition. 

Senior Andrea Maldonado said, “It’s not a hierarchy, it’s a family. We have tried to make ourselves very available to them.”

The family-type atmosphere that the team has created has helped the team grow stronger together. The hardest thing for the incoming freshmen is transitioning from club gymnastics to the NCAA world.

It is more competitive and should present new challenges for the athletes. Although it is a tough transition, they seem to be adapting well.

Hannah Loyim, freshman, said, “I’m not only competing for myself, but I’m competing for the entire team.” That mindset will be crucial for the season ahead.

With the first meet three weeks away, the game plan over break is to continue working on consistency and determining the starters for each event. With the depth of talent at each event, narrowing down the starters to just six gymnasts is going to be a tall task.

The lineup that is closest to being set is for the vault.

The talent on the vault was great last year, and the starters have proven to have the consistency to carry over into the new season.

The other events still have a lot of variabilities, however. Ronayne said that there could be up to a dozen potential starters for the last three events with the current depth of talent. Although cutting that down to six will be tough, the depth will be good if they need to rotate gymnasts in and out during the year.

“We have a lot of depth on three events, and most importantly on floor, we have a lot of depth that we didn’t last year. That was our lowest scoring event, and we anticipate that it could be one of our highest-scoring events this year,” Ronayne said.

The biggest thing that the team has been working on is improving the consistency of the high-level routines that they have been working on. Especially on floor, developing high-level and high-scoring skills can help them pull out more wins.

The Cyclones have been working hard since the end of last year, and the only thing now is to go out and show the fruits of their labor.

“I’m excited to see all our hard work as a team pay off,” Maldonado said.

It will be exciting to see if the Cyclones can come out and meet or even exceed expectations. They have less than a month to put the finishing touches on their routines and prepare for the start of the season. The first meet is set for 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 7 at Hilton Coliseum. 

“Who knows, once the lights are on, things might be different than in practice, but in practice, we are doing great,” Ronayne said. “We are going after it; we are putting it all out there. So it may be risky, but it’s going to be super exciting.”