Senior night provides stage for continued ascent for ISU gymnastics

Kevin Horner

Iowa State’s final regular-season home meet will allow for an emotional send-off for lone senior Caitlin Brown and the ISU gymnasts will strive to emulate the paradigm Brown has cultivated to further substantiate their resume for the postseason.

Although Senior Night will present a fun and energetic environment for ISU gymnastics, the Cyclones need to ensure that this matchup against Temple (2-13, 0-3 ECAC) will not be Brown’s last at Hilton Coliseum.

Iowa State (6-10-1, 0-2-1 Big 12) is set to host one of the six NCAA Regional competitions on April 4, and considering only the top 36 Division I teams across the nation participate in this event, the Cyclones, ranked at No. 28, need to continue to perform at a high level in order to secure their spot for postseason play.

“We want to end [the regular season] on a really good note so that we can go into the postseason with a lot of confidence,” Brown said.

Although the Cyclones currently reside near the bottom of the top 36 rankings—just .300 above the No. 36 spot—they still are in much more of a comfortable position than at this time last season. 

In its previous season, Iowa State, for the majority of the year, was sitting on the outside looking in on the top 36 Division I teams—based on Regional Qualifying Scores. However, a strong finish to the season, capped off with a season-high score of 196.650 at the Big 12 Championships, landed the Cyclones the final spot at regionals.

Thus, despite their current cushion in the standings this time around, the ISU gymnasts have refrained from relaxing just yet.

“We’re a little uneasy [sitting in the No. 28 spot] just knowing that is so close, and anything can happen,” said freshman Micole O’Dell. “We just need a big score to get us in a safer spot for regionals.”

Iowa State successfully boosted its score in each of its last two meets, transcending the 195.000 mark in consecutive competitions on the road. However, in terms of substantiating an already-impressive home resume, merely eclipsing a score of 195.000 will not suffice. 

To broaden the gap between themselves and the teams outside the top 36, Iowa State will have to score higher than 195.675—a feat the team has only accomplished twice this season. 

The recipe for this success required that the Cyclones on March 13 consist not of newfound routines or unique acrobatics, but of the philosophy that ISU coach Jay Ronayne has preached all season: consistency through clean routines and perfected details.

“We’ve just been trying to implement the same things,” said freshman Hilary Green. “Have fun, be consistent and do our individual jobs.”

Despite the pressures to succeed, the ISU gymnasts will not allow their lone senior and leader, Brown, to experience her Senior Night without proper recognition for all of the work that she has contributed to this ISU gymnastics program.

“On Senior Night, [the coaches] will put something funny into all of our floor routines that resembles [Brown],” O’Dell said. 

The Cyclones hope to carry this emulation of Brown beyond just the floor exercise to ensure a consistent and successful Senior Night in every facet of the meet, accumulating momentum as they prepare for the challenges of the postseason.