Gannon and Thompson Live the Cy-Hawk Rivalry
AMES, Iowa – For the athletes who don the cardinal and gold, there is always one date that is circled on the calendar. That, of course, is the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series. For Iowa State swimmers Maria Gannon and Sarah Thompson, it means even more.
Gannon, a native of Iowa City, Iowa, has been wrapped up in the rivalry for as long as she can remember.
“Being from Iowa City and coming to Iowa State, it’s just a fun rivalry,” Gannon said. “Especially since I have lived in that town all of my life and been around the Hawkeyes growing up.”
As a member of the Iowa City West High School swimming team, Gannon placed eighth in the 500-freestyle at the 2011 state meet and 13th in the same event at the 2010 state meet. While in high school, Gannon trained in the same pool as the University of Iowa swimming team, and she has always looked up to the Hawkeye athletes growing up.
When it became time for Gannon to pick between being a Hawkeye or a Cyclone, however, her strong family ties pulled her to Iowa State. Maria’s older brother Jacob Gannon is a redshirt junior who plays on the offensive line for the Iowa State the football team.
Gannon’s Cyclone pedigree reaches back four decades as her father Mike Gannon played football for the Cyclones in the late 1970s.
“I have always really liked the campus, and I like the people here,” Gannon said. “When I visited the team, I felt at home; it was a good choice for me.”
Thompson, a graduate of Bettendorf High School near Davenport, Iowa, also considered attending the University of Iowa. After earning All-America honors in the 200-backstroke and numerous Northeast-10 Conference championships at Southern Connecticut State University, Thompson decided to move closer to home to start her junior year of college.
“I was looking at Iowa and Iowa State, but the deciding factor was I went into engineering,” Thompson sad. “Iowa State has a better engineering program, but also when talking to both of the coaches and the programs, it seemed like Iowa State swimming was a much closer knit program; they really watched out for their teammates and their athletes.”
According to Gannon, she will be racing against the Hawkeyes on Friday for a number of reasons; one of them is bragging rights.
“The rivalry was always there, and I wear it proudly back home,” Thompson said. “I will wear an Iowa State shirt anywhere and I know the majority of people are wearing Hawkeye apparel.”
As a senior, this Friday marks the last chance for Thompson to compete in the historic rivalry. For those who are in the water, it meet means more than a typical regular season dual.
“We are the big schools in Iowa, and we both want to be the better school. We want to be better academically and athletically,” Thompson said. “We are a very competitive team, and this is a rivalry, so we want to beat them. There is definitely added motivation.”