Cyclones head to new classic and competition

Junior Alex Marasco does a split jump while competing on the beam at the NCAA Regionals on Saturday at Hilton Coliseum.

Rachel Given

The ISU gymnastics team is traveling again this weekend, this time to Knoxville, Tenn., for the Ozone Collegiate Gymnastics Competition. It will be the second of three road meets before the team has their first home meet this season.

Starting the season on the road is unusual. For the past three seasons, the team usually starts with a scrimmage against themselves at home, but the schedule for this season didn’t include the Cardinal and Gold Intrasquad competition.

Even though this season is atypical, head coach Jay Ronayne believes starting the season off with three road meets will help the team have faith in their performance. 

“I honestly believe it’s going to help us a lot, mainly for confidence because we always say if we can hit on the road, we can hit at home,” Ronayne said.

The team was invited to the Ozone Collegiate Gymnastics Classic and will compete in it for the first time in the school’s history. There will be three other schools competing against the Cyclones; Pittsburgh, US Air Force Academy and Southeast Missouri. Two of the three schools are familiar with ISU gymnastics.

“It’s a fairly new competition, it seemed like this is the year we should do it,” Ronayne said.

The team is bouncing back from a close loss against Minnesota, which is ranked 20th in the nation. Freshman Meaghan Sievers had a breakout first meet and led the team in both the floor exercise and vault.

“She went straight to her favorite event and just knocked down this incredible vault,” Ronayne said. “She’s just a tremendous athlete, we knew that when we first saw her.”

The Classic will give the team a chance to scope out the US Air Force Academy for their future tri-meet with Minnesota again in Ames in February.

Last year, the Cyclones beat Southeast Missouri in the biennial Beauty and the Beast meet at home. In the same meet, now senior Sammie Pearsall earned a 9.950 on the balance beam, tying the school record. That same routine led her to win the Big 12 Event Specialist of the Week that week.

One thing Pearsall remembers with each competition is that nothing changes; even with a lot of people watching, the gymnast remembers reminds herself that before every event. This goes along with Ronayne’s view on each competition.

“You know, a gymnastics meet is a gymnastics meet, it doesn’t matter where we are going or who we are competing against, we are going to prepare as best we can for whatever it is,” Ronayne said.

Even though the Classic is a new competition, the team has not prepared for it any differently than prior meets. For the season as a whole, Ronayne feels this team will prepare and stay steady throughout competition.

“I expect us to be scoring consistently well. We are a far more consistent team than we have been in the past few years, and we have some depth of talent,” Ronayne said.

The competition starts at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn.