Ronayne talks difficulties of previous season, biggest improvements


Jacob Rice

Iowa State senior Alondra Maldonado competes in the beam event during the Cyclones’ gymnastics meet against the University of Iowa on March 4, 2022.

Logan Shanks, Sports Reporter

After a season filled with its fair share of ups and downs, the Cyclone gymnastics team is ready to jump start the new season ahead of them. 

Head coach Jay Ronayne is entering his 17th season at Iowa State; that number doesn’t mean much to him compared to his excitement to work with his team every year. 

“Every year has a freshness and newness to it, so everything seems new all the time,” Ronayne said. “Still feels like a rookie every day, which is a good thing.” 

The 2022 season was filled with injuries for the Cyclones, and Ronayne spoke on the trials and tribulations of last season, saying that it was one of the toughest years he’s ever had. Even with the team’s setbacks, they were still able to advance to the second round of the NCAA Auburn Regional. 

“It was the most difficult, the most challenging, and the least fun,” Ronayne said, “but when it came down to what we needed to do at NCAA’s, I couldn’t have been more proud of our group.”

When asked who has made the most improvement this offseason, Ronayne rattled off a few names at the start, including Hannah Loyim, Emilie Hong, and Kaia Parker. He then looked around the room and praised every gymnast he saw, talking about their strengths, their individual journeys coming into the year and their potential for this season, showing his confidence in his team. 

Ronayne gave a special nod to senior Laura Cooke when asked about anyone on the team that has taken a leadership role coming into the season. 

“She’s very quiet, and she does her job. As a senior, she’s been pulling in the right direction,” Ronayne said. “She’s performing incredibly in the room, so I think that’s one of the reasons the underclassmen gravitated towards her.” 

The injuries have carried over into the 2023 season, as redshirt senior Makayla Maxwell, one of the best performers for the squad last year, is dealing with an Achilles injury that will keep her out for the entire season. 

“I’ve been student coaching since I was given the okay after my surgery,” Maxwell said. 

Maxwell also said she thinks about whether she will return “every single day” but has not made a decision and does not see one coming until later in the season. 

The Cyclones have a couple of returning gymnasts in Natalie Horowitz and Madelyn Langkamp, who were unable to compete last season due to injuries. 

“We had great fifth-year senior role models last year, so now this year, it will be fun for us to step into their role, and we’re excited to see our comeback,” Horowitz said. 

The team has not set any goals for scoring or rankings for the season, but Ronayne and his staff have their plan going forward. 

“We’re gonna do everything we can do to get better every day, enjoy what we’re doing and stay in the process,” Ronayne said. “We’re gonna celebrate all the victories on the way and learn from the mistakes.”

Attendance is important to the gymnasts, Ronayne and the entire staff. Ronayne discussed this ahead of the season, mentioning how much energy it gives the team.

“Come to the first one, and I guarantee you’ll come back to all the other ones,” Ronayne said. “If you’ve never been, you have no idea how much fun it is.” 

The Cyclones started their season on Saturday with a 194.875-194.675 win over Northern Illinois. They are back in action for their home opener at 6:30 p.m. Friday against Eastern Michigan and UC Davis.