Iowa State gymnastics performed like it practiced, grab best score of year

Iowa State Gymnastics Head Coach Jay Ronayne cheers on sophomore Meaghan Sievers as she finishes her uneven bars routine during The Beauty and The Beast event at Hilton Coliseum on Jan. 27. Sievers would go on to earn a score of 9.850. 

Austin Anderson

Iowa State gymnastics coach Jay Ronayne stood in front of his team, the No. 34 ranked team in the country, at practice on Monday. The team had just suffered its first loss of the season on the road at Arizona two days earlier. The two meets before that weren’t the prettiest despite resulting in victories.

Yet Ronayne stood in front of his team with a message.

“We are a top-15 team, aren’t we?” Ronayne asked.

Heads nodded in agreement as Ronayne paused.

“In this room [you are],” Ronayne said back. “You’re not doing it outside of this room. We have to bring it out there. We truly believe we are a top-15 team but you can only do that if you do it outside of the practice gym.”

Oklahoma, the No. 1 team in the country and defending national champion, visited Hilton on Friday night and won handily, 197.425-195.175. That isn’t a surprise. Ronayne acknowledged himself that if anyone on his team came to the meet on Friday night expecting to win, they were probably fooling themselves.

The message in practice all week was the Cyclones were competing against themselves, not the Sooners, and if that holds true, the Cyclones dominated this meet.

195.175 is .85 better than the Cyclones previous season high, a substantial improvement.

“Everybody looked sharper, more like we look like in practice,” Ronayne said. “That’s exactly the progress that we need to make.”

Last week in practice, the coaches isolated junior Hilary Green in a pressure packed situation. She needed to hit her routine with the whole team watching and she did.

She still fell on her routine on the uneven bars against Arizona.

This week Green and Ronayne sat down and talked.

“You put the idea in your head that you are doing it for your sisters and doing it to have fun and for the kids in the crowd,” Green said. “That’s what was going through my head so I just had fun with it and made it happen.”

Green said she was fighting for her sisters, her teammates, and they often believed in her more than she believed in herself at times.

“I’m here for a reason,” Green said. “I was picked to come to Iowa State for a reason. I’m good at bars and I should know that and believe in it.”

On Friday, Green came out and got a career high on the floor, a 9.850.

“Pressure comes from yourself, it doesn’t come from anybody else,” Ronayne said. “[Green] creates a lot of pressure for herself. I had a long talk with her earlier in the week and I think we’re getting rid of that.”

The coaches tried to simulate the pressure of a live meet in practice but then they had a realization. If they are doing so well in practice and not the meets, why not make the meets feel more like practice than the other way around.

Less focus on scores and less focus on the opponent, especially one that’s the best team in the country.

“I was less nervous going against Oklahoma,” junior Haylee Young said. “We weren’t trying to beat them. We weren’t trying to get a higher score than them, that wasn’t going to happen. We’re not in that position right now. It honestly gave me more of a drive to go out and get the best score we could because we weren’t trying to beat anyone.”