Gymnastics to open season at home vs. Denver

The Iowa State gymnastics team celebrates after a landing was stuck during the vault part of the competition on March 15, 2019 in Hilton Coliseum. 

Adarsh Tamma

The Iowa State gymnastics team is set to begin the 2021 season at Hilton Coliseum with a home opener against conference opponent Denver on Friday after an abrupt end to its 2020 season with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the 2020 season, the Cyclones posted a record of eight wins and seven losses, with eleven of these matchups against ranked opponents. They finished the season ranked 20th in the nation and also had nine different gymnasts win individual events.

Heading into the 2021 season, Iowa State will be returning a majority of its roster from last year, including 16 letter-winners, while also starting off the year with an No. 18 ranking in the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association’s preseason poll.

The Cyclones’ key gymnast will be senior Andrea Maldonado, who earned First Team All-American honors last season on the floor exercise, her primary event. On the floor, she scored four 9.950s in 2020, with her team scoring six 9.950s across all disciplines last season.

Along with Maldonado, the Cyclones will also field fellow senior Sophia Steinmeyer in their lineup. The West Lawn, Pennsylvania, native had a stellar junior season in 2020, setting a new career-high of 9.900 in the vault and leading off for the Cyclones in ten meets.

She also played a big role in being a starter on the beam, posting a National Qualifying Score (NQS) of 9.825, while also setting a career-high with a score of 9.825 in ISU’s opening meet.

In the other two disciplines of uneven bars and floor exercise, Iowa State will look to Madelyn Langkamp to score high for them.

The junior had a breakout sophomore season in 2020, posting a score of 9.850 on the floor four different times throughout the year. Leading off on both the bars and floor for the Cyclones, Langkamp equaled her career-best score of 9.850 twice last season.

Head Coach Jay Ronayne has multiple gymnasts to use in competition, as the Cyclones have 16 letter-winners from last year’s squad returning for 2021. Freshmen duo Emilie Hong and Kaia Parker are both debuting for Iowa State this season and coming off of experienced prep careers.

Hong, the lone international signee for the Cyclones this season, placed first in the Canadian Level 10 National Championships in the vault, landing a perfect 10.0, along with being named Western Canadian vault champion three times and earning a silver medal at the 2019 Canadian Winter Games.

Parker was a four-time Junior Olympics National Championships qualifier, taking home 10th place in the vault in 2019. The Ozark, Missouri, native also earned four podium finishes at the 2019 Missouri State Championships.

The trio of newcomers to the Cyclone squad will be rounded out by junior Addy De Jesus, who joins Iowa State after two years at Nebraska.

As a Cornhusker, De Jesus nearly secured All-American honors in the vault last season by tying for 18th nationally in the even, while scoring at least a 9.990 four times on the apparatus in 2020.  She also produced a career-high in the all-around competition with a score of 39.450 against Michigan State, while scoring two more 39.400s in the next two meets as well.

Iowa State will face the University of Denver at 2 p.m. on Friday in Hilton Coliseum.