ISU gymnasts look for road success at IGI Chicago Style Meet


Freshman Haylee Young inverts herself on the vault during the met against Oklahoma on Feb. 6.

Kevin Horner

Regardless of higher average team scores and numerous individual accomplishments, there is still one thing that has eluded the ISU gymnasts to this point — success on the road.

Iowa State (2-7-1, 0-2-1 Big 12) has the opportunity to accomplish this feat on the big stage as it squares off against Northern Illinois (4-1, 2-1 MAC) and Yale (3-3, 0-1 Ivy League) at the IGI Chicago Style meet — the world’s largest women’s invitational gymnastics meet.

The Cyclones’ average combined team score in their first six meets is 194.854, largely in part to a home average of 195.800. Thus, it is no mystery that the ISU gymnasts continue to seek out the antidote for their struggles away from home.

“Road scores are gold,” said ISU gymnastics coach Jay Ronayne. “And we’re entering the second half of the regular season, so they have even more value now. Time is ticking away and we have to try to beat that clock.”

Up to this point, an average score of 193.908 in away meets has haunted Iowa State, not because it is an uncharacteristically low average, but because it is inhibiting the team from raising its combined team average. 

The Cyclones’ average on the road is still greater than last year’s regular season road average of 193.720, however, in last year’s case, that score didn’t nearly have the same impact on the team’s combined average. For the Cyclones, achieving success on the road is paramount to maximizing their potential given the talent of their young squad.

“Going into the postseason, you need to have those away scores,” said senior Caitlin Brown. “We can’t just rely on our home scores. If we want to be competitive on the big stage, we have to bring it no matter what.”

Fortunately for Iowa State, it will hit the road for Chicago with the memories of two successful meets still replaying through the minds of its gymnasts — something the team did not have leading into the last time it hit the big stage at the Metroplex Challenge. The Cyclones will attempt to utilize this, in addition to flu-like viruses being removed from their systems, to finally achieve that coveted prosperity away from Ames. 

“I do feel that we’re in a better place than we were [at the Metroplex Challenge],” Ronayne said. “We’re a little more healthy and we have more confidence in each individual that has competed.”

For the individual gymnasts who are returning from last season, they are very aware of the results of the team’s previous matchup with Northern Illinois and why history cannot repeat itself if the Cyclones are to triumph in Chicago. 

Coming off of its most successful meet of the season last year, a 196.025-194.175 conference victory against West Victoria, Iowa State, having to count a fall as part of its vault rotation, finished with a season-low total score of 192.725 in its matchup against Northern Illinois, Texas women’s and UW-Whitewater. 

Regardless of past meets, however, Iowa State will accept the circumstances and carry the mindset that has been the foundation of this season.

“We’re just competing against ourselves at this point, trying to prove ourselves and get better,” said freshman Haylee Young.

The triangular meet will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Navy Pier in Chicago, Ill.