Career nights, season best lead Iowa State gymnastics to best start of Ronayne’s tenure

Iowa State Senior Kelsey Paz takes a moment to concentrate before starting her bars routine during the Quad Meet against Yale, West Virginia and Northern Illinois Feb. 2. The Cyclones won the meet with their highest team score of the season with a total of 196.200 Points.

Austin Anderson

Iowa State gymnastics coach Jay Ronayne said it seems everyone he has seen over the last month has had something to say to him while he’s out and about. He gets stopped when he’s around Ames, usually when he’s in Hy-Vee.

Most of them are people he’s never seen before but they all have the same thing to say.

“Great start to the season,” or “You guys are looking great,” they tell him.

“It still strikes me as odd,” Ronayne said. “We’re so much better than what we’ve shown so far that we as coaches, and even the team, are like ‘Well thanks, but we’re better than this. We’ll show you.”

On Friday night, the Cyclones did show what they are capable of. The Cyclones were dominant with a season-high score of 196.200 and three gymnasts having career nights in the all around competition. The quad meet victory over West Virginia, Northern Illinois and Yale moves the Cyclones to 9-1 on the season.

“It proves to us that we are one of the best teams out there,” said senior Kelsey Paz. “We really want to do this for our coaches. They have shown so much care for us and shown us how much they believe in us.”

Paz tied her career high in all around and senior Haylee Young and junior Meaghan Sievers set new career highs themselves in the all around competition.

“It’s their hard work and that’s exactly what you’re seeing,” Ronayne said. “The score that you see, the performance that you see, it’s their hard work, that’s what you’re seeing. That’s not the hard work that they’re doing tonight. It’s the hard work they’ve been doing since last May.

“They’re all in and it’s paying off.”

Young’s score of 39.550 is the best score an Iowa State gymnast has had since Janet Anson in 2007 at the Big 12 Championships.

“I’m proud of myself because I feel very prepared this year,” Young said. “I earned it and my team has earned it. We’ve worked harder than we’ve ever worked. I seriously feel like when I go up for my routine, I’m nervous but I know I’m going to deliver because of what we do in the gym.”

The offseason preparation has been key to the success the Iowa State team has had this season. A lot of credit is given to the team’s preparation this offseason. Ronayne said the goal was to be ready to compete a month before the regular season started.

“Long before we went away for Christmas break, we were ready to compete,” Ronayne said. “Starting the season extremely prepared, that’s the difference this year. We’re typically kind of prepared.”

The 9-1 start is the best start, record wise through 10 results, of Ronayne’s tenure in Ames.

“It’s an odd feeling,” Young said. “But it’s also like we’ve earned it. That should be our record. I would find it hard to believe a team works harder than our team. We did great tonight, but [assistant coach] Nilson [Medeiros-Savage] told us after, that was a mediocre meet for us. We didn’t do our best.

“We had great moments but it was not our 100 percent best meet, but it’s coming.”