Ana Irene Palacios punches ticket to 2023 Central American Games


Jeff Spaur

Ana Irene Palacios practicing in the Beyer Hall Gymnasium.

Andrea Maldonado

The Pan-American Championships were an exciting and clarifying event for many teams and individuals throughout the Americas. For Ana Irene Palacios, however, it was her ticket to her second Central American Games. 

Despite being out of the international stage for over a year and maneuvering the new lifestyle of a student-athlete, Palacios had a good meet throughout the competition. 

Elite gymnastics is a different section that takes gymnasts to the international stage and creates the potential for individuals and teams to compete at the Olympic level. In contrast to the NCAA, the requirements and the scoring process also differ.  

The NCAA uses a simplified version of scoring where the athletes have a starting value of 10 points; then, the judging panel deducts from those points. However, the code of points used for elite gymnastics requires the judging panel to add the difficulty points along with the execution points.

This creates a higher margin of scoring, so the final scores go above 10 points. In the NCAA, the highest score is known as a perfect 10.00, while in elite gymnastics, the highest score could go up to 16.00 points. 

Palacios fought her way through bars with a score of 10.133 and finished the balance beam with a 10.767. Palacios encountered challenges in both of these events, but she overcame them gracefully.

Moving to floor, Palacios scored a 10.876. Floor was where Palacios was able to showcase her powerful tumbling skills while at the same time dazzling the audience with her choreography. 

Finally, vault was Palacio’s strongest performance, scoring 12.767. Power was on display during the event, and Palacio’s vaults show potential for upgrades and plenty of consistency for the Cyclones as they enter the 2023 season. 

Alongside her future goals, Palacios qualified for the 2023 Central American Games. This will be her second Central American Games, and she could portray her maturity and consistency as an athlete. In the 2018 Central American Games in Colombia, Palacios placed fourth in the floor final.

As for the Cyclones, Palacios will continue to work towards being an asset in all four events. 

Palacios had an amazing representation at the 2022 Pan-American Championships in Brazil, which should bode well for her potential throughout her NCAA career.