Similar situations, different responses spur success for ISU gymnastics


Freshman Kelsey Paz leaps into the air during her floor routine against Oklahoma on Feb. 6.

Kevin Horner

The ISU gymnasts were presented with hauntingly comparable scenarios as they faced at the Metroplex Challenge, yet the outcomes were strikingly different.

Fueled by sharper routines and perfected details, the Cyclones responded to their minor slump with scores of 195.675 and 195.775 during their pair of meets against Oklahoma (9-0, 2-0 Big 12) and Centenary (1-6, 0-0 SCAC), respectively.

Although Iowa State (2-7-1, 0-2-1 Big 12) fell to Oklahoma, a team that posted a season-high score of 198.100, in the first of two meets this weekend, it utilized difficult circumstances to exhume higher scores it had earlier achieved to defeat Centenary, instead of succumbing to the hands of adversity.

“Instead of letting the dominoes continue to fall, [the ISU gymnasts] focused on themselves and what they are in control of,” said ISU gymnastics coach Jay Ronayne. “You can’t control that somebody fell.”

As they did last weekend in the Metroplex Challenge, the Cyclones squared off against No. 1 Oklahoma, presenting the ISU gymnasts with a significant obstacle. In the first instance in Fort Worth on Jan. 31, the Cyclones responded with their second-lowest score of the season on the floor exercise to begin the meet. This, in a metaphorical sense, pushed the first domino in a series that eventually led to a season-low score of 193.400.

However, in this instance, the gymnasts responded with a season-high 48.950 score on the vault Feb. 6, only to surpass the number Feb. 8 against Centenary with a score of 49.025.

“[Success on the opening event] helps us know that we are in it to win it that day,” said freshman Kelsey Paz. “It just gives a lot of energy to everyone.”

The next, and most significant, set of dominoes in the sequence at the Metroplex Challenge were the multiple falls on the balance beam. After sophomore Allie Hansen fell during her routine, the next two ISU competitors, junior Sammie Pearsall and freshman Haylee Young, followed suit with missteps of their own.

Against Oklahoma, the situation was setting itself up similarly as Pearsall again fell on her routine. However, this time around, the following two gymnasts, Young and junior Alex Marasco, posted scores of 9.775 and 9.875 — leading to a combined score of 49.075, a 1.600 point improvement from the previous meet. 

The Cyclones seemed to have sent the dominoes in the opposite direction than how they fell at the Fort Worth Convention Center Arena.

“We handled little mishaps here and there way better than we did last weekend,” said senior Caitlin Brown. “We were working backwards for the past couple meets, and now we’re working back forwards.”

Not only did the Cyclones significantly enhance their scores, improving from an average of 194.125 during the past two meets to an average of 195.725 during the pair of competitions this weekend, but also individual scores ran the gamut of improvement as the weekend saw 14 new career-high scores for a combined nine different Cyclones.

Iowa State recognized the difficulties set before them and used them to, in a sense, put the train back on the tracks, spurred on by the culmination of various individual efforts.

“It feels amazing [to post high scores again] because I know how much potential this team has and I know that we can do even better,” Young said. “We’re just getting started.”