Iowa State gymnastics has one message in practice this week: Hit

Hilary Green celebrates with her teammates after her floor routine on Jan. 13 in Hilton Coliseum during Iowa State gymnastics tri-meet on Jan. 13. Iowa State won the tri-meet against Towson and UW-Oskosh with a score of 194.275.

Austin Anderson

The Iowa State gymnastics team’s record is perfect, but its individual performances haven’t been. 

Last Friday against Towson and Wisconsin-Oshkosh, the Cyclones only hit on 19 of the 24 individual events. The Cyclones fell on the balance beam, uneven bars and had three errors on the floor exercise, two falls and one step out of bounds.

The message this week in practice in preparation for the Cyclones’ first road meet against Arizona was simple.

“Our goal for this meet is to hit 24 out of 24 routines,” captain Briana Ledesma said. “At this point, we are not asking for you to be perfect, we just want you to stay on the equipment. That’s been a major reason for these missed opportunities. It’s not form-wise, it’s not performance, it’s just falls.”

At practice this week in Beyer Hall, a sign was put up.

It reads: “24 out of 24, that’s your job.”

To symbolize the pressure put on the gymnasts in real-life situations, the gymnasts were put on the spot in practice. They didn’t have to be perfect or set personal records, they just had to hit their routine.

Hilary Green was one of the gymnasts facing pressure in practice on Tuesday. If she hit her routine, she got a huge round of applause and sigh of relief from her teammates. If she didn’t, there would be consequences of physical endurance.

She hasn’t been able to hit on three occasions so far this season, and head coach Jay Ronayne said the team is counting on her to be a valuable contributor this season.

With all eyes on her in practice, she hit. Twice.

“She hasn’t been performing up to her potential and she knows that and she’s been pretty angry about it,” Ronayne said. “We’re helping her get to where she wants to be, which is hitting routines.”

A fall in gymnastics is an automatic half-point reduction. Six gymnasts participate in each event, but only the top five scores are counted. If one gymnast doesn’t hit on one event, the scores are fine because the falls can be thrown out.

The problem with the Cyclones so far has been multiple missed opportunities on the same apparatus.

“If two or three of them are on the same event, that’s one whole point taken off, that’s giant,” Ronayne said. “A meet is lost or won by .025, not two points. That’s like losing a football game by 46.”

This is also the Cyclones’ first road meet of the season. There are the obvious challenges of potential jet lag from the 1,400-mile plane trip. Ronayne said the real challenge is competing in a new, potentially hostile environment as well as getting adjusted to a new routine.

Nevertheless, the Cyclones have a chance to improve to 4-0 for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

“This week has been looking really good for us,” Ledesma said. “If we keep this up, I think Arizona will be a good breakout for us.”