Cyclone gymnastics ready for NCAA Championships

Iowa State gymnastics team members huddle together at the 2022 Big 12 Gymnastics Championships on March 19 in Denver, Colorado.

Hailey Dohnal

Cyclone gymnastics has officially entered the postseason and is ready for the challenges that await them.

After a slow start at the Big 12 Championships that could’ve turned out better for the team, the Cyclones are headed to Auburn, Ala., to compete in NCAA regionals, ready for a clean slate against a talented field.

Iowa State faces Western Michigan to open the regional, with the winner advancing to a quad meet Thursday.

The top two teams from Thursday’s competition will then advance to Saturday, and the top two teams from Saturday’s meet will compete in the National Championship two weeks later.

“We need to bring a better energy right from the very beginning,” Iowa State head coach Jay Ronayne said.

Last meet, the Cyclones started their competition on the uneven bars — their weakest event this season. Ronayne says that although it played a factor in the final result of the Big 12 Championships, he doesn’t want to lean on excuses. 

“Since we’ve lived through it, it should not be a factor anymore,” Ronayne said. 

The team will start on vault, their strongest event, at their meet Wednesday, which will help the competition to feel more like a home meet as they will compete in the same rotation that they do at Hilton Coliseum. 

The goal all season for the Cyclones has been to hit all 24 routines, which the team has yet to do. Additionally, sticking their dismounts will be a make or break for them. 

“That’s what it all comes down to now… that’s what’s separating all the teams right now…if we hit our routines and stick 80 percent of our landings, we will have a much longer season,” Ronayne said. 

Something important to remember about gymnastics is that although it is an individual sport, it is scored as a team, and that team has a lot of significance to the final outcome. 

“We do everything as a team…when we don’t show up as a team, we don’t perform well,” Ronayne said. 

The Cyclones have competed against and beaten Western Michigan already this season, which is a confidence builder for the team.

Maddie Diab scored a 9.900 on the floor, and Ariana Orrego put up a career-high 9.925 on bars.

Western Michigan comes into Wednesday’s meet, having lost its last four meets. But Ronayne has watched plenty of gymnastics this year and believes this is the best team he’s seen from the Broncos in a long time.

“We’re going to have to be on our A-game,” Ronayne said. 

Redshirt junior Makayla Maxwell will be one to watch on the vault. 

Maxwell scored a perfect 10 at the Cyclones’ Missouri quad-meet March 12 and was just .5 away from another 10.00 at the Big 12 Championships.

“I’ve been waiting for that moment since I was a little girl,” Maxwell said of her perfect 10. 

Maxwell says that although there are still a couple of things she can clean up, she is proud of herself. 

Diab is the leader of the floor exercise for Iowa State. Diab has consistently put up high scores on the event and earned a share of the Big 12 floor title. 

“I’m confident. I feel good. I know we have so much more potential,” Diab said. 

The Cyclones could have the opportunity to compete two days in a two if they win Wednesday’s competition.

“I think we’re being prepared really well for it… it shouldn’t be a problem,” Diab said. 

Both Diab and Maxwell feel their team is peaking at the right time, and they are excited to see what the team can do.

Iowa State will compete against Western Michigan at 3 p.m. Wednesday in the Auburn Regional.