Photo: Courtesy of DU Gymnastics twitter
Today, the University of Denver Gymnastics team advanced from the Fayetteville, Arkansas NCAA regionals to NCAA nationals – the first time since 2008.
Head Coach Meilissa-Kutcher Rinehart and assistant head coach Linas Gaveika are taking the women’s gymnastics team to a new level. While DU has always had individual stars such as Jessica Lopez from Venezuela, they never could recruit the depth necessary to realistically compete with the national powers such as Oklahoma, Florida, and Michigan.
That just might be changing.
Last season, DU senior Nina McGee made ripples with her high scores and individual floor title at nationals. In order to fill the void left by McGee, Kutcher-Rinehart signed prized freshman Maddie Karr from the Twin City Twisters in a huge recruiting coup for Denver. Karr could have gone anywhere but chose Denver.
And it is not just Karr. Senior Julia Ross and Junior Nicole Addison were in the top six places in three out of four events at Fayetteville. Sam Ogden was top six in two of the four events. Out of all the Regional competitions nationally, Denver scored the sixth highest overall team score.
This season, the surging Pioneers were a constant top-10 presence and selling out DU’s Hamilton Gym for home meets. The coming out party for gymnastics was officially complete when the team had to move to Magness arena to accommodate a large and growing base of 4,000+ fans.
Add another twist – Denver joins Stanford as the only private Universities standing in the top 15 gymnastics programs heading into regional competitions this weekend.
The national championships are being held in St. Louis, Missouri, April 14-15 and hosted by the University of Missouri, Columbia and the St. Louis Sports Commission. The top two teams from the Champaign, Fayetteville (Denver & Utah) and Seattle regionals will compete in one of the semifinals, and the top two teams from the Gainesville, Lincoln and Morgantown regionals will compete in the other semifinal with a natonal team title on the line.