Depth key to Iowa State gymnastics’ early season success

Iowa State senior Briana Ledesma performs on the floor routine during the Cyclones’ 195.275-191.050 win over Texas Women’s. 

Austin Anderson

The Iowa State gymnastics team has completed a third of its season so far and coach Jay Ronayne has one big takeaway: depth.

The team suffered its biggest loss before the season even started when junior Sydney Converse was lost for the season with a torn achilles. A few Cyclones have been limited since with injuries. Others have been in and out while the coaches have tried to find the right lineup.

“We have a real team,” Ronayne said. “We have some depth which is really important right now because we are four meets in and you can get a little dinged up. Having personnel being able to slide in to take somebody’s spot that needs a rest, that’s really important.”

Last week against Texas Woman’s University, the Cyclones inserted some new faces like sophomores Molly Russ and Cassie Diaz into the beam lineup and senior Hilary Green into the floor lineup.

“Sometimes if you’ve been in the lineup for a really long time, you get comfortable,” said senior Briana Ledesma. “To be on a team right now where there’s people wanting to be in the lineups, fighting to be in the lineups, it pushes you to get even better which is great because if you do stay in the lineup you have that extra push.”

That extra push can be seen on Friday when Iowa State hosts its first quad meet of the season against Yale, Northern Illinois and West Virginia.

Iowa State is ranked at No. 24 in the Road to Nationals poll. West Virginia comes in right behind at No. 27 and is the second Big 12 opponent the Cyclones will face this season.

“It’s a little more important,” Ronayne said. “There’s a little more satisfaction in a win that involves a Big 12 opponent. It’s really a feel thing.

“We want to be able to go to the Big 12 championship having already won against Big 12 competition.”

This meet is also slightly different than what fans have seen this season. It’s a quad meet. All four events will be taking place at the same time with four sets of judges and little down time in between.

It could be a distraction, Ledesma said, but she said she doesn’t think about it. Ronayne said the team doesn’t do anything different in practice.

“Preparation is still the same always,” Green said. “Walk in confident, walk out confident. With a quad meet, it goes a little faster. It’s a lot of gymnastics action all around the whole meet.”

The team currently sits at 6-1 with a 195.450. A quad meet victory would improve the team to 9-1 but the Cyclones still haven’t appeared to perform up to the potential they believe they possess.

“I think it’s pretty great that when we’re not our best [we still score] 195,” Ledesma said. “When we first got here, our best was not a 195. To know that we’re not on our game, we’re 195. When we are going to hit and we hit 24 of 24 routines, and everyone has their greatest meet, we’re going to score 196, 197.

“That’s the goal, to hit 197 this year.”