Paulus: Nationís Most Improved Gymnast?
AMES, Iowa - It is an inexact science to quantify degrees of improvement in most sports and gymnastics is no different. However, with the senior season Iowa State's Celine Paulus has had, an argument can be made that she is the nation's most improved gymnast.
Paulus entered her senior season with only having having notched a 9.900 or higher on any event once (her sophomore year on vault). In 2012, Paulus has registered 9.900 or higher on three events (vault, bars and floor), highlighted by a 9.950 vault effort at Denver on Feb. 4.
The Yorba Linda, Calif., native entered elite company by scoring 9.900 or higher on three events this season. Currently, only 30 gymnasts can lay claim to having reached the 9.900 or higher mark on at least three events in 2012.
How does this equate to Paulus being the most improved gymnast in the country?
After eliminating freshmen, Paulus is the only member of the prestigious club who entered this season with only one 9.900 on any event. Every gymnast who has scored 9.900 or higher on three events this season, started the 2012 campaign with multiple scores of at least 9.900.
Iowa State head coach Jay Ronayne has been impressed by what he has seen from Paulus during her senior season.
"When Celine was recruited, I had high hopes for some quick improvement from her and thought she was going to be a pretty good collegiate gymnast," Ronayne said. "By midseason her freshman year I had privately thought to myself, 'wow, I really missed that one' and had somewhat written her off as a recruiting mistake. She got better her sophomore and junior years but always had something that prevented her from making that jump from good to great.
"She has amazed me this season with the way she has taken control of her gymnastics. What I am seeing from her is the result of what happens when hard work meets focused commitment. She has always been a bit of a gamer, one who doesn't have the greatest practices but tends to turn it on in competition. In her senior year she has committed to doing quality work during our practices, and it has paid off pretty big for her in meets. She has been scoring very well for us this season. She can go 9.9 on all of the events and now the mission for her is to do that all in the same meet. I can't wait to see her do it."
In a club filled with returning NCAA champions and All-America nominees, Paulus has landed herself in that group of the nation's elite and in the discussion as the most improved gymnast in the country.