Hilton Magic snuck into chalk for gymnastic’s first home meet


Emily Blobaum/Iowa State Daily

Haylee Young, sophomore, hugs Kelsey Paz, sophomore, after finishing her uneven bars routine Jan. 23. 

Rachel Given

Sprinkles of magic from the ISU men’s basketball win against Kansas seemed to have remained dusted around Hilton Coliseum as the ISU gymnastics team started their first home meet off strong.

The Cyclones began the meet on the vault, which bumped up the team’s energy for the rest of the meet. Individual scores got higher as each gymnast ran their routine. Starting off, sophomore Kelsey Paz earned a 9.65 on her routine, while anchor freshman Meaghan Sievers ended the event with a score of 9.85. The team met the excited gymnast halfway down the runway to congratulate the screaming Sievers.  

“I could feel the Hilton Magic, it was awesome,” Sievers said.

Sophomore Haylee Young earned a 9.8 on vault. Young followed up with her second event on the uneven bars, sticking her landing on the dismount and earning a 9.725.

But she wasn’t the only Cyclone sticking their dismounts, senior Sara Townsend was first up on the uneven bars, starting the rotation off with a score of 9.65 and starting a series of perfect dismounts for the Cyclones.

Sievers and sophomore Hilary Green tied on the bars for Iowa State both earning a close to perfect 9.9 on the scoreboard.   

“Bars was my best event tonight, and it’s so good to have what I’ve been doing in practice finally carry over into a meet,” Sievers said.

Five out of the six gymnasts on the uneven bars had stuck their landings.

“We told [the team] at the beginning of the week, we’re auditioning for competitors,” said coach Jay Ronayne. “Not just people who practice all right, hoping to get it together for competition, but real fire-y competitors, and that’s kind of what  we got out of [the team] at practice this week, and a lot more of what we got out of them today.”

After two rotations, the Cyclones were in the lead with a team score of 97.9, following close behind was North Carolina State with a team score of 97.45 and Lindenwood with 95.9.

High scoring beam routines from Young and senior Alex Marasco helped make up for freshman Kelly Martin’s shaky routine, which earned an 8.45 on the scale. Martin tried the same trick twice, but had fallen off the beam both times.

“She missed one foot completely, and came down hard on the beam,” Ronayne said. “She had to repeat that skill to get full bonus, so she tried to repeat it again, and it hurt. We’ve been working very, very hard in the gym trying to fix things like that.”

After three rounds, the Cyclones were leading by almost an entire point.

“Our team energy was so high tonight, even after we had one mistake on the beam, we stayed together, we didn’t watch the other teams, we focused on us,” Young said.

Fueled by the crowd cheers and magic the team moved on to the last event, floor routines. Iowa State exploded on the mats, earning the highest scores of the night.

“I think floor is our strongest event right now, but we’re striving to make all of [the events] the same,” Ronayne said.

Three new gymnasts to the night earned a 9.00 or higher. Sophomore Courtney Middelkoop competed for the first time this season and earned a 9.825 on her floor routine, matching the same score of Paz’s floor routine. Young finished out all four events with her floor routine, which earned a 9.85.

“Floor was a really good start and a really good finish, but my middle pass wasn’t as good as it usually is, so I’m just looking to pick that up next week and get an even better score,” Young said.

For her first meet as a Cyclone, Sievers is very excited.

“[It’s] exactly what I’ve been waiting for,” Sievers said. “It’s just so exciting to be able to do this and have this much fun next meet again, and four more times this season.”

Maybe the magic dust left over really did help, as the team scored a season high of 195.65 points on the win.

The team is hoping the magic will still be in Hilton next week as the Cyclones face the West Virginia Mountaineers for another home meet.