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Iowa History Daily: April 1 - ISU Claims Gymnastics Crown

Iowa History Daily: On April 1, 1971, Iowa State captured the national championship in men’s gymnastics. The first of three national titles and a run of ten Big 8 championships in eleven years, the legacy of men’s gymnastics at Iowa State stands as an often forgotten run of excellence for Cyclone athletics.

Starting in 1961 underneath the bleachers of Clyde Williams Field, 25-year-old Ed Gagnier led the first practices for the Cyclones. Over the next decade, Gagnier built a program which rose to the top of the sport nationally. After gathering the first athletes through promises of open spots in the line-up, Iowa State’s program started to grow alongside the sport as a whole.

In 1963, the NCAA officially added men’s gymnastics as a competitive sport and the Big 8 started hosting competitions for member schools. In 1964, the Cyclones moved out from under the bleachers to a practice space in Beyer Hall and captured the school’s first conference title. By 1970, the Cyclones had risen to the top of the sport, placing runner-up at nationals to Gagnier’s alma mater Michigan Wolverines.

In 1971, however, the Cyclones stood ready to capture the title. Trailing by 2.5 points with two days to go, Iowa State captured the lead by a half-point going into the final day. The Cyclones went on to win back-to-back team titles in 1973 and 1974, capping a dominant run. Iowa State dissolved the men’s gymnastics program in 1994. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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