Cyclone Upset Bid Comes Up Just Short At No. 6 Neb
LINCOLN, Neb. - The Iowa State gymnastics team nearly upset No. 6 Nebraska Friday at the Devaney Center, but the Cyclones had to settle for career nights from their senior all-around competitors Celine Paulus and Michelle Browning. Nebraska won the team competition 196.175-195.700 after the Cyclones led following the first three rotations in Iowa State's regular-season finale.
Paulus tallied 9.900 on three events (vault, bars and floor) en route to a career-high 39.500 score in the all-around, the highest mark in the all-around by a Cyclone since Janet Anson's 39.550 on March 23, 2007. Paulus was also the first Iowa State (5-7 overall, 0-2 Big 12) gymnast to register 9.900 or higher on three events since Anson on March 31, 2007. Paulus shared top honors on floor at the event.
Reigning Big 12 Gymnast of the Year Browning produced her best outing as a Cyclone with a career-high 39.425 score in the all-around. Browning was consistently impressive all night with scores of 9.850 (bars), 9.850 (vault), 9.875 (floor) and 9.850 (beam). Browning's 9.850 beam score earned her top honors on the apparatus.
"Michelle Browning is back to her regular self in competition and that's what we've been waiting for this season," Iowa State head coach Jay Ronayne said. "I told Celine after the first meet this season that she could score a 39.5, and it was just a matter of time. I am excited it happened now, and she can have even more confidence going into the championship season."
Nebraska's (12-2 overall) Janelle Giblin won the vault and bars titles with scores of 9.950. Browning won beam (9.850) and Paulus shared the floor crown with the Huskers' Jessie DeZiel (9.900). Giblin went on to edge Paulus for the all-around title with a score of 39.525.
"We had three very solid events," Ronaye said. "We had some impressive performances from some individuals that weren't really suprising but we knew they were capable of doing it. We put Shea in on vault with a vault she has only been training for three weeks and that's something we need as a team to feel comfortable with on our vault squad heading into the postseason."
Iowa State got off to a fantastic start by tallying 49.000 on bars, its second-highest score on the apparatus this season. Paulus led the way with a career-high-tying 9.900. Browning delivered a score of 9.850 and sophomore Michelle Shealy produced a season-high 9.800. It marked the second time this season the Cyclones have had three gymnasts score 9.800 or higher on the event.
For the second event Iowa State notched a season-high 49.125 on vault that was highlighted by Paulus' second 9.900 of the evening. Browning delivered her second 9.850 of the night, a season high for the senior. Senior Shea Anderson produced a career-high-tying 9.850 on the apparatus, while freshman Caitlin Brown had her second-best score on vault in her young career with a 9.800. Iowa State's 49.125 was its second-highest score on any event this season, just barely behind the Cyclones' 49.175 tally they registered against Minnesota on Feb. 26. The Cyclones' team score was its highest on the apparatus since a 49.150 tally at Nebraska on March 14, 2010.
The Cyclones did not cool off in their third rotation with a 49.075 team score on floor. Paulus made it three-straight 9.900s with her 9.900 score on floor. Browning tied her season-high score with a 9.875 and junior co-captain Elizabeth Stranahan chipped in with a 9.800.
Iowa State competed on beam for the final rotation and was forced to count a fall en route to a 48.500 team tally. In addition to Browning's 9.850, Iowa State had strong tallies from Brown (9.825) and Paulus (9.800). Brown's score matched her top career effort.
The Cyclones begin post-season action in their next meet with a trip to Norman Okla., for the Big 12 Championship. Iowa State will face Oklahoma and Missouri March 24 at the Lloyd Noble Center. The meet is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. CDT. and will be shown on tape delay on Fox Sports Networks.