Iowa State gymnastics aims to stay focused on ‘business trip’ to California

Iowa State freshman Sophia Steinmeyer performs on the beam during the Cyclones’ 195.275-191.050 win over Texas Women’s. 

Austin Anderson

Iowa State gymnastics coach Jay Ronayne stood in front of his team after Wednesday’s practice and described his team’s road meet this weekend at San Jose State as a “business trip.”

The Cyclones are coming off their best score of the season in last weekend’s quad meet victory with the opportunity to keep the momentum going.

“It gave us confidence that we can score big,” said senior Haylee Young. “At the same time, we can’t focus on that and get comfortable and think we’re fine. We’re not fine. We’re [ranked] No. 23. We want to be at least No. 18.”

The Cyclones had to count routines with the scores of 9.575 and 9.600. Despite it being their best meet of the season by far, the room for improvement is apparent.

Road meets are also particularly important because they play a slightly bigger role when determining what 36 teams advance to NCAA regionals via the Regional Qualifying Score.

The RQS is calculated by taking the top three away scores, then taking the next three highest scores — home or away. The final score is calculated after dropping the highest score of the six and averaging the remaining five.

“We’re building off last week,” Ronayne said. “We want to use that as confidence walking into a foreign place on foreign equipment in a potentially hostile environment. What we really need to do is just stand up to the test.”

The Cyclones will get to experience the sunny climate of California where the temperature is expected to be 70 degrees. The team has activities planned, including a visit to Alcatraz on Saturday. But first the Cyclones have to take on the challenge of No. 14 Boise State and San Jose State.

“It’s not a vacation,” Ronayne said. “It is a business trip. We have a job to take care of. There’s that potential that one or two of the team members will view this as a vacation. In my mind this is not at all a vacation. This is serious stuff.”

Sophomore Cassie Diaz is from California and has some friends on the San Jose State team that she competed with on her club team.

Freshman Ariana Orrego lived with Boise State sophomore gymnast Isabella Amado while the two trained in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Both were the first female gymnasts to represent their countries in the Olympics.

“We were like sisters,” Orrego said. “We lived together and did everything together.”

The team is also focusing on hydration on the three and a half hour flight.

Outside factors have the potential to distract the Cyclones, but they have a big task at hand on the road against one of the top teams in the country.

“I’ve never been to California,” Young said. “I’m so excited to get to the warm weather. I think we’re going to have good vibes because we’re going to be super happy that we’re there.

“We get the whole day Saturday to have fun, but business is first Friday.”