Iowa State gymnastics opens up the season in Arizona

Haylee Young performs her beam routine during Iowa State’s tri-meet against Illinois State and Gustavus Adolphus on Feb. 17. Young scored 9.850 on her routine en route to an Iowa State victory. 

Austin Anderson

The Iowa State gymnastics team gets the 2018 season underway this weekend in a quad meet in Tempe, Arizona. Here’s what to watch for:

Everyone is back

The Cyclones went through the 2017 season without a senior on the roster. The team relied on two juniors, Briana Ledesma and Kelsey Paz, to be the team captains and saw another, Haylee Young, qualify for the national championships in all-around.

The upside of the shortage of seniors in 2017 will be felt this season with the entire team returning in 2018. Last season the Cyclones broke into the top 25 rankings for the first time since 2015 and finished the season ranked No. 29 in the final Road to Nationals poll.

Fresh Faces

A lot of familiarity remains amongst this Cyclone team but four gymnasts will be new to the 2018 roster, including a former Olympian. Freshman Ariana Orrego was the first gymnast from Peru to compete in the Olympics when she participated in the 2016 Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

Annie Johnson and Sophia Steinmeyer originally rounded out the freshman class until this week when coach Jay Ronayne announced the addition of Natalia Ros Vaquer of Spain.

The impact of the freshman is yet to be determined, but they aren’t the only new additions to the Cyclones. Kristin White, a former All-American gymnast at Oklahoma, has taken over as an assistant coach for the Cyclones.

Season Opener

Iowa State hits the road for its first meet of the season. The Cyclones are taking on No. 14 Auburn, No. 20 Iowa and the home team, Arizona State, to open the season on Jan. 6.

The Cyclones opened last season by hosting Arizona State, and got the victory 193.850-191.800. The result wasn’t the same when the Cyclones traveled to Iowa City toward the end of last season.

This is the first chance at redemption against the Hawkeyes following last season’s 196.725-195.300 loss, but it won’t be the last this season. The annual Cy-Hawk matchup will take place in Ames on March 9, which happens to fall on Senior Day for the Cyclones.