Mixed emotions for ISU gymnastics at Beauty and the Beast


Chalk sprays from senior Caitlin Brown’s hands as she grabs on to the uneven bars.

Kevin Horner

On one hand, .025 of a point represents the narrowest differential that can exist between two scores in gymnastics.

On the other, more bleak hand, this number represents the only obstacle that withheld the Iowa State beauties from slaying the beast that was Oregon State.

Iowa State (1-2, 0-0 Big 12) settled for second place Jan. 18 at the Beauty and the Beast gymnastics and wrestling event, despite record-breaking numbers with a score of 195.950. The Cyclones were edged out by the Beavers (2-1, 0-1 Pac-12), who ended atop the podium with a score of 195.750.

Southeast Missouri State (1-2, 0-0 Ohio Valley) finished in third place with 193.300 to round out the triangular competition.

The ISU gymnasts, however, even after suffering heartbreaking defeat, were all smiles at the conclusion of their first home meet of the year.

Why? Because aside from the haunting .025 of a point, the Cyclones executed and improved in every facet of the meet.

“It was a good meet,” said ISU gymnastics coach Jay Ronayne. “It really was. If you match video with everything that was done last week and everything that was done this week, [the gymnasts] were far improved.”

On a topical level, the Cyclones enhanced their overall team score by 2.475 points from last weekend’s meet to Sunday, achieving a score they only achieved twice before the Big 12 Championships last season.

Beneath the surface, it becomes evident that this success did not result from a single source, rather, every gymnast pulled their own in front of their fourth-largest crowd of 5,603 fans at Hilton Coliseum.

First off, Iowa State improved in all of the four events. Individually, of the 24 scores that the ISU gymnasts received throughout the competition, 19 of the numbers improved.

“It feels amazing,” said senior Caitlin Brown. “This is the most fun I’ve had at meets since I’ve been here and it’s only the second one.”

The Cyclones manifested a cohesiveness that seemed to drive them throughout the course of the event, making it even easier to swallow the team’s narrow defeat.

“We are so excited for this year,” Brown said. “The passion, the drive that this team has is so much fun.”

Another countermeasure to help alleviate the loss was Iowa State’s history-setting performance on the balance beam.

After sitting out the majority of last season and the opening meet in Minneapolis, Minn. due to injury, junior Sammie Pearsall took on her first event of the year.

“It was like 10 seconds before [the event] started,” Pearsall said. “I just remembered how lucky I was to be competing given that I didn’t get a season last year.”

And take advantage of her opportunity did she ever.

Pearsall scored a school-record tying 9.950 for her routine on the beam. This number outmatched her personal best by .075.

Not to mention, Caitlin Brown followed Pearsall’s performance with the exact same score, positioning herself right next to her teammate atop the ISU record books. It is safe to say that the Cyclones had a successful day on the balance beam.

From an optimistic perspective, the Cyclones delivered in all of the areas they could control at Beauty and the Beast. Unfortunately for Iowa State, no defensive aspect exists in the sport of gymnastics that could have helped deter the high-flying Oregon State team.

“It’s a bittersweet thing,” Ronayne said. “I feel like my team did their job, we just came up that little bit short.”

Iowa State will contain to accentuate the positives that this event brought to light, such as the bright future that lies ahead considering the team averaged only 194.345 over the course of the entire regular season last year.

The Cyclones may have fallen short of victory, but they say they will build upon their successes and develop even further as an established gymnastics program.

“We’ve been telling people all of preseason that we are going to be really good this year,” Brown said. “We’re ready.”