Ivory An Anchor For Cyclone Gymnastics
AMES, Iowa – When Iowa State’s gymnastics coaches put together their line-ups , they have to answer one important question: Who will anchor the team in this event? This season, the answer has often been senior Milan Ivory.
“The first competitor we’re putting up is someone we know is going to hit,” head coach Jay Ronayne said. “The last competitor we’re putting up is not only someone we know is going to hit, but someone that is going to hit with a very high score. What it says is that we trust she is going to nail something and it’s going to be something special.”
Ivory has often been the Cyclones’ anchor this season, including their most recent meet against Oregon State, where she was in the No. 6 spot on vault, balance beam and floor exercise as the team posted a season-high score of 194.850. However, after an Achilles rupture just two years ago, Ronayne was questioning whether Ivory would ever be able to return to doing the dynamic gymnastics that she is capable of.
“I was on floor, doing my last pass and it just popped,” Ivory said. “It was hard because coming back takes a year and being out for that whole year was depressing. It was frustrating having to take it slow.”
Ronayne believes the adversity of such a devastating injury has actually helped the Marietta, Ga. native get to where she is now. He always knew Ivory was physically capable of great gymnastics, but her response to the injury and maturation during her year out of competition is why he often places his trust in her to anchor the team.
“It’s like watching a daughter grow up,” Ronayne said. “She really has grown up a ton in the four years that she’s been with us. A lot of it was through adversity and her injury. Now she has the most confidence she’s had in herself in her collegiate career.”
Ivory, who posted a season-high score on balance beam at Oregon State with a 9.825, has continued to reaffirm the trust her coaches place in her this season.
“Having to go through that difficult time, it helped me,” Ivory said. “Now being in the situation that I’m in and being able to compete and doing what I am doing for the team, I’m looking at things more positively, which is good after going through that rough start. It means a lot knowing that the team and the coaches trust me enough to put me last on those events.”
For the Iowa State coaching staff, Ivory’s comeback story is not only rewarding, but full of promise for more to come as the season progresses.
“It’s great to see her realizing her potential,” assistant coach Kristen Maloney said. “She has even more that she can reach for because she is so athletically talented. It’s crazy. Getting her to believe that she can do more has been a process, but seeing her grow into that and believe in that has been fun.”
The Cyclones will be back in action Friday at 6:30 p.m. as they return home to take on Big 12 foe West Virginia in Hilton Coliseum.