Big 12 opener just ‘another meet’ for ISU gymnastics

Kevin Horner

Even a Big 12 opening meet against a team that it bested the past two years in the Big 12 Championships cannot alter the mindset of the ISU gymnastics team. 

Despite the changing circumstances around them, the Cyclones continue to focus on moving forward and improving from previous meets.

“We performed very well last week,” said ISU gymnastics coach Jay Ronayne. “And we still left a lot of room for improvement, so we know we can be better. That’s really the driving factor right now.”

In addition to the commencement of conference competition, Iowa State, due to their successful scores at Beauty and the Beast, is now ranked nationally, tied for the 23rd spot with Southern Utah.

Even so, the Cyclones have maintained their drive toward constant improvement every week, regardless of results, rankings or opponents.

That being said, along with Big 12 opponent West Virginia, Iowa State will also square off against No. 25 George Washington out of the Atlantic 10 Conference this weekend.

The Colonials of George Washington University have begun their season with an undefeated record, finishing atop the leaderboard in consecutive meets against two and four other opponents, respectively.

Despite these credentials, the Cyclones strive to hold fast to their consistently reiterated philosophy.

“It’s another meet,” Ronayne said. “It’s a road meet, which makes things more challenging. So that’s really more of the focus.”

However, this same immutability may not be characteristic of the Mountaineers entering this weekend’s matchup in Morgantown. The ISU gymnasts have edged out West Virginia in their last three meetings, including last season’s Big 12 Championship meet in which the Cyclones claimed victory by less than three-tenths of a point.

Likewise, Iowa State has carried a trend over the past couple years of outperforming its season’s average when in competition with West Virginia. Over the four meetings between the two teams through the past two years, the Cyclones have averaged a score of 195.918, a number that tops both averages from the previous two seasons.

“I think they’re going to be a little bit nervous going against us,” said junior Alex Marasco.

After only joining the Big 12 in gymnastics two years ago — and considering the only other Big 12 opponent is 2014 Division I National Champion Oklahoma — West Virginia may have only viewed Iowa State as an afterthought in previous years. However, the Cyclones believe things have changed.

“I think [West Virginia] is going to start looking out for us,” said junior Sammie Pearsall. “I don’t think we were really on their radar to begin with, but I think this year they’re going to be ready for us.”

Iowa State will have that opportunity to validate its potential as the team travels down to Mountaineer country this weekend.

The triangular meet is set to start at 1 p.m. on Jan. 25 at Cary Gym in Morgantown, West Virginia.