Three Big Takeaways: Cyclone gymnastics ready to seize the moment


Jacob Rice/Iowa State Daily

Andrea Maldonado (left) and her sister Alondra Maldonado (right) hug after the floor exercise in the Cyclones’ meet against the University of West Virginia on Jan. 28.

Christian Royston

Iowa State gymnastics is back to its winning ways.

After a rocky opening to the season for the Cyclones, everything was on the table as they faced off against West Virginia at home Friday.

The Mountaineers came out hot and seemed as though they could take the meet, but the Cyclones proved to be too much to handle, securing a 196.225-195.425 victory.

The Cyclones were looking for their bounce-back meet, and they got it. 

Consistency, consistency, consistency

“Hitting routines helps a lot,” Iowa State head coach Jay Ronayne said with a smile.

Although Ronayne was being sarcastic, there was truth to his words. Hitting routines is necessary and has hindered the Cyclones’ success early in the season.

Hitting routines is easier said than done, but the Cyclones did what they set out to do Friday. Hitting 24 of the 24 routines was the game plan, and Ronayne was happy with only missing two of those routines.

Consistency has been constantly preached among the team, and they came out to prove that they can dial in when they need to.

The Cyclones made a splash early on by setting a new season-high on the vault with a 49.175 and did not stop there. New season-highs were set on the balance beam and the floor with 48.825 and 49.225, respectively.

The greatest area of improvement came in the beam rotation. Falls had become a common sight for the Cyclones’ beam team, but they were nowhere to be seen against West Virginia. 

“We have been having a little bit of a struggle on beam, and it’s very refreshing to get that monkey off our back,” Ronayne said.

The beam was not the only event the Cyclones improved on.

Although it might have seemed that the meet was fully one-sided in favor of Iowa State, West Virginia wasn’t going home without a fight. A tense Hilton crowd was as silent as ever as the meet entered its final rotation, with the Cyclones trailing West Virginia by .150.

With the pressure on, the Cyclones went out and showed everyone what they had been working on and perfecting amid their losses. The Cyclones set a new season-high on the floor to propel them to the win over West Virginia.

Practice makes perfect

Although this saying may sound overused at this point, it bears as much weight as ever for the Cyclones gymnastics team.

The Cyclones have not let the losses this season get them down, but instead, have gone out and worked harder than ever before to correct their mistakes. They knew they had the talent and the routines of an elite group.

They just needed to translate their practice to the big stage.

It seemed as though the mental side of competing was getting the best of the team early on. Uncharacteristic mistakes had haunted the Cyclones in every meet, whether it was a fall, a slight balance check, easily avoidable deductions or even a rocky landing.

Ronayne mentioned how gymnasts know that their bodies can perform the routines; they just have to take their minds out of it.  

“That was the goal… try to get the mental focus to let our bodies do what they can do,” Ronayne said.

As the Cyclones get more experience competing in real meet settings, the nerves will calm themselves.

The practice and hard work that the team has been doing since last season is starting to pay off, as scores are beginning to trend upwards. 

Momentum is key to success

It was clear coming into the meet that momentum would play a large role in the outcome.

If the Cyclones could get rolling, they would be hard to stop. With the Hilton crowd cheering them on, all they needed was one great routine or event to fuel the fire, and they delivered.

As the events progressed, more season and career-high routines were on display for the Cyclones. 

Hannah Loyim, Laura Cooke and Ariana Orrego all set new career highs on the bars, while Loganne Basuel posted a season-high of her own. Meixi Semple was able to close out the beam rotation matching her season-high with her second 9.850 in a row. 

The momentum did not stop there. Kelsey Boychuk started the final rotation matching her season-high score of 9.825, while Cooke matched her career-high and second 9.900 score of the season.

Freshman Rachel Wilke also posted a career-high score of 9.800.

Nobody feels the effects of the momentum generated from the gymnasts before her more than Maddie Diab. She has closed out three of the four meets this season and posted three straight 9.900 scores on floor coming into the meet.

When asked about her key to success this season before the meet, Diab said it’s about “building off the momentum of all my teammates before me.”

And that momentum fueled her to a strong 9.875 routine to secure the victory for the Cyclones. With everyone firing on all cylinders, the Cyclones set a new season-high team total of 196.225 and earned their first win of the season.

A win is a win, but the team knew they could get moving in the right direction with the help of one great meet, and now might be that time to start rolling.

“I’ve said it before, it will take one meet with some success, and the floodgates will open. This is it, this is the moment,” Ronayne said.

The Cyclones’ next meet against No. 5 Denver, scheduled for Feb. 13, where the Cyclones will need to dial in to pull out a win against one of the nation’s top schools.