‘Insulted’ Cyclones want to prove people wrong at regionals

Iowa State defeated Southeast Missouri and Centenary on Friday during their tri-meet at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones posted a 195.775. 

Austin Anderson

Meaghan Sievers stumbled upon an article on Monday. It was a preview for the NCAA regional in Lincoln the Cyclones will be competing in on Saturday written by NCAA Gym News.

The dominance of LSU was talked about, as well as the perceived battle for second between Boise State and Nebraska. Then the writer discussed the longshot possibilities of No. 4 seed Arizona and No. 6 seed Minnesota having a chance.

It took 646 words and 31 sentences to be written before the words “Iowa State” were anywhere to be found.

When No. 5 seed Iowa State was finally discussed during the section on the teams, the Cyclones had two sentences written about them.

“Iowa State could advance, but it would take a lot of help from everyone else,” the article read. “Just making regionals is the prize here as the Cyclones have been in and out of the top 36 over the past few years.”

“Bold. That’s bold,” Sievers said. “I think people truly underestimate the amount of work and heart that this team has. I don’t think people have any idea how far we’ve come and how much we’ve worked to be at this point.

“It doesn’t show it anywhere, but we’re actually the most improved team in the NCAA right now. I think people completely underestimate our team and the potential that we have. It’s almost an insult to me. The only thing we can do for that is show them that they’re wrong. I’m ready to throw it back in their face.”

When Sievers first read the article, she sent it to junior Haylee Young.

Being counted out this season isn’t new to the Cyclones, particularly Young. After the opening meet of the season against Arizona State, Young brought up being an underdog. The Cyclones began the season ranked No. 40 before climbing as high as No. 23 this season.

She has preached having an underdog mentality all season.

“When people say stuff about us like it’s just a prize for us to be at regionals, that’s not really fair for them to say because we’ve had a great season,” Young said. “That just gave us all a little extra motivation going into this weekend.

“We expected to be here.”

The Cyclones expected to make it to regionals, but everyone expected the rest of the teams in the Lincoln regional to be there.

LSU is the No. 2 team in the country. Boise State is the No. 2 team in the regional. Nebraska is hosting the regional. Two of those three teams are expected to finish in the top two on Saturday and qualify for nationals. 

“We’re not keeping up a reputation,” Young said. “We’re building one.”

The Cyclones are the No. 5 seed and, as made apparent by the article, have little expected of them nationally.

“We’re just going to have to prove ourselves,” Young said. “That’s all we can do.”

But all of the scores are wiped clean from earlier in the season. The only scores that matter are the ones scored on Saturday. Without expectation, it’s possible the higher ranked teams are more likely to feel the pressure.

“Pressure is an individual thing, and it’s created by that particular individual,” coach Jay Ronayne said. “It’s the perception of every team member of our team that would create any pressure. If their perception is there is no expectation put on us, then there is no pressure. Nobody expects anything of them, except for themselves.”

The lack of pressure seemed evident at Iowa State’s last practice before the team took off for Lincoln. When Young was being interviewed, the team stood below the uneven bars and chanted, “Haylee! Haylee!” Over and over again.

“They’re so annoying,” Young said with a smile on her face.

Young has been the Cyclones’ highest scorer this season and has a strong possibility to qualify for nationals as an individual if Iowa State doesn’t make it as a team.

But in the same article, it was advised to “not count out” Young, despite being a favorite, at least on paper.

The two gymnasts with the highest all-around score who don’t automatically qualify with their teams advance to nationals.

She’s ranked third at the regional in all-around, behind one gymnast from LSU and one from Boise State, and No. 19 in the country, but wasn’t mentioned until after the No. 22, No. 36 and No. 48 all-around gymnasts in the NCAA Gym News article.

From a team and an individual aspect, the Cyclones are going into Lincoln feeling overlooked.

“You’re starting from a blank slate,” Ronayne said. “What kind of history are you going to write? If nobody expects you to write a masterpiece novel, then when you do, it’s going to be received pretty well. If everyone expects it from that blank slate that you’re going to write the best piece ever, you’re probably going to fall short.”