One dream accomplished, others cut short for Caitlin Brown at NCAA Championships


Senior Caitlin Brown leaps into the air during her floor routine at the NCAA Regionals on Saturday. Iowa State placed fifth.

Kevin Horner

The regular season of senior Caitlin Brown served as an accurate indication of how she would fare at the NCAA Championships on April 17.

As she did at the conclusion of the regular season, Brown earned a spot on the All-American Second Team for the balance beam — boasting a score of a 9.875. She rounded out her all-around performance with scores of 9.800, 9.750 and 9.750 on the floor, vault and uneven bars, respectively. 

Brown, a 2015 All-Big 12 Team member on the balance beam, entered the NCAA Championships cognizant of the fact that this event provided her the best chance to qualify for the individual finals on April 19. Following her routine, her mind had not changed.

“I knew beam was my best shot at finals,” Brown said. “That [routine at nationals] didn’t feel like it was going to be my last routine, honestly.”

Half of the judges substantiated Brown’s analysis of her routine, each granting her a score of 9.900 — enough to qualify for finals on Sunday. However, the other half of the judging panel was not completely convinced, each equating the routine a 9.850 — averaging the event total to a 9.875. A 9.900 would have extended the ISU senior’s career as a Cyclone.

In a sense, Brown left the Fort Worth Convention Center with a sense of accomplishment — fulfilling a goal that had been set years before.

“[Beam] was the one thing that I had down right away from freshman year,” Brown said. “I’ve wanted to be an All-American on beam since the day that I stepped into that gym [freshman year]. So to be able to do it two times in one year, it felt good.”

In another sense, some dreams were still left unaccomplished after Brown hit her final landing as a collegiate gymnast. In heartbreaking fashion, only 0.025 points separated Brown from fulfilling one of the larger of these aspirations — qualifying for the individual event finals.

Brown’s former teammate, Michelle Shealy, was the last Cyclone to qualify for the individual event finals as she notched a 9.900 on the balance beam at the 2013 NCAA Championships. Although Brown could not entirely emulate this performance, she has decided not to dwell on what could have been.

“I wish I would have been able to compete on Sunday, but it was a good last meet,” Brown said. “I can’t be upset with that.”

Despite concluding her ISU career at the NCAA semifinals as opposed to the finals, the Apple Valley native will not bid Ames farewell without her fair share of accolades and accomplishments.

Her 9.950 performance on the beam at this season’s Beauty and the Beast on Jan. 18 — along with her 9.900 on the uneven bars at the Big 12 Championship — currently sits in the record books among the names of the greatest gymnasts in the history of Iowa State.

For the three-time All-Big 12 Championship Team member, two-time NCAA Championships qualifier and 2013 Janet Anson ‘Key’ Gymnast of the Year, the top of the record books seems like a suitable spot for Brown.