Haylee Young and Jay Ronayne

For Jay Ronayne, Chasing the Best Gymnastics is the Ultimate Goal

The 2022 season for the Iowa State Cyclones was, in a word, challenging. With injuries to several key members of their roster, the season went from lots of promise to trying to survive very quickly. 

“[We] started the preseason [last year] as the most talented team I’ve ever had, to not, really fast,” Coach Ronayne recalled. “It was more challenges than we were able to find a way [to overcome].”

Now that the Cyclones have completed preseason relatively unscathed, they are set to open the season at Chow’s Winter Classic Friday against Northern Illinois. Unlike last season, Ronayne has an almost completely full roster at his disposal. Sophomore Marina Gonzalez and fifth-year Makayla Maxwell are confirmed to be out with ACL and Achilles injuries, respectively, however, the Cyclones add five freshmen that are expected to be lineup-ready by midseason and gain back two impactful fifth-years in Natalie Horowitz and Madelyn Langkamp.

Horowitz is returning from a shoulder injury, and Ronayne says they are moving along slowly with her to make sure she is able to withstand the entire season. Langkamp, returning from a foot injury, is “100%” per Ronayne. A major contributor on bars and floor in 2021, it is expected she will be back on at least bars and come along on floor by the end of the year.

As far as his returners, the upgrades fans have seen in preseason may have to wait a little bit longer to come out on the competition floor. Ronayne does not want his gymnasts to go out with anything less than 100% confidence.

“When you’re doing new stuff…you have that sense it might be 60% right now. I don’t want them to feel that at all this year,” Ronayne said when discussing the upgrades seen in practice. “It’s been a ton of fun because we get to play…but [we want] to just get experience with it.”

At the end of the day, Ronayne is focusing less on outcome-oriented goals and more on the gymnasts’ experiences for 2023.

“We’re going to have fun—that’s been my message to the team from the moment last year ended,” he said. “If this stuff isn’t fun, it [isn’t] worth doing. We’re just going to chase the best gymnastics we can possibly do and get better every day. If we keep doing that, stuff falls where it needs to. We don’t have to worry because it takes care of itself.”

READ THIS NEXT: Iowa State Allows Gymnasts to Pursue Elite, College Careers Simultaneously

Article by Savanna Whitten

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