Takeaways: Gymnastics gets historic performances in Denver rematch

Kaia Parker high fives with teammates after performing on the vault in Iowa State’s gymnastics meet vs Denver on Jan 15. (Photo courtesy of LUKE LU/Iowa State Athletics)

Adarsh Tamma

After a historic performance for the Iowa State gymnastics team over the weekend, the Cyclones got a bump up in the national rankings.

The Cyclones’ 196.050-195.850 victory over their Big 12 rival Pioneers shifted them from the No. 18 to No. 17 spot in the Road to Nationals’ Poll. Denver also fell three spots to the No.8 position, after a rise to the No5 spot with a win against Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 15, as well as defeating Air Force on Jan. 24.

It was a historic day for Iowa State Head Coach Jay Ronayne and his squad, who came into the Magness Arena on Sunday looking to avenge their opening loss at home at the hands of the Pioneers. They got just that, with multiple strong showings to get their first win over a top-five team since 2006, the highest in the Ronayne-era.

De Jesus’ historic performance

The Cyclones’ top performance came from junior Addy De Jesus, who made history by scoring a perfect 10 on the vault to lead off the meet for Iowa State, part of an effort that scored 49.175 points on the apparatus.

De Jesus’ score was the first such performance on the vault in Cyclone history since Janet Anson in March 2004. It was also the first perfect 10 in any event in Coach Ronayne’s tenure, the first on the vault nationally, and only the third in the nation this season so far.

De Jesus dominated the meet for the Cyclones, winning both the vault and floor exercise titles, as well as taking home the individual all-around top prize with a total score of 39.525 points across the four apparatuses.

The Greenwich, Connecticut, native was again at the top of her game in her floor exercise routine, scoring a 9.900 to tie her career best. The only gymnast to compete in all four events for the Cyclones, De Jesus scored at least 9.700 in each of the four events, tying for second on the balance beam and finishing in eighth in the uneven bars with scores of 9.850 and 9.775.

It was a performance that added to De Jesus’ strong start to the young season so far, as she was the lone individual champion in Iowa State’s last meet against Denver at Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 15.

Also on the vault, De Jesus scored a 9.900 and finished third in the all-around competition with 39.025 points.

Scores from diverse array of gymnasts

Elsewhere for Iowa State, freshmen and sophomore gymnasts also produced big scores to carry the Cyclones to the victory.

While De Jesus was the standout on the vault, freshman Kaia Parker also had a career day, landing a new high score of 9.825 as the next best Cyclone in event to finish in fourth place.

Sophomore Makayla Maxwell, who in 2020 competed in all of ISU’s meets, scored a 9.775 on the vault to tie with senior Sophia Steinmeyer for seventh place in the overall standings.

On the balance beam, Parker again produced impressive results with a score of 9.775 to finish in seventh place to set a new career-high. Junior Kelsey Boychuk also produced a new career-high in the event with a score of 9.800, while fellow junior Meixi Simple was the next best performer on the beam behind De Jesus, turning in a score of 9.825.

On the uneven bars, the middle of the order continued to be crucial for Iowa State, with five out of the six gymnasts producing at least a 9.600 on the apparatus.

Maxwell had another impressive performance, setting a new career-best of 9.850 to finish tied for third place. Fellow sophomore Loganne Basuel trailed close behind with a score of 9.800 for her debut in the event. The Cyclones outscored Denver by nearly 0.5 points to win by a score of 49.325-48.850.

Finally on the floor exercises, the Cyclones were again consistent with their performances, with five of the six gymnasts in the lineup producing scores of at least 9.700.

Behind De Jesus’ impressive day, Boychuk also had a sharp showing, scoring a 9.825 in her debut to tie with sophomore Maddie Diab for second place.

Steinmeyer also came up big with a score of 9.750, while another floor debut in junior Phoebe Turner turned out to be crucial with a score of 9.725.

The Cyclones, like in the other three individual events, defeated Denver by a score of 49.025-48.800, their third 49+ performance of the day.

Iowa State continues its Big 12 campaign on Sunday, when it will travel to Morgantown, West Virginia, to take on the West Virginia Mountaineers.