Authored by LetsGoDU Contributor Jill Cattrysse-Larson
The Denver Pioneers Women’s gymnastics team faced off against Big XII rivals, Oklahoma, in Norman on Sunday, January 30. Denver, ranked 5th in the nation, came off a big win at West Virginia. The Sooners, ranked 3rd, had 61 consecutive wins at home, making this the biggest challenge Denver had faced yet this season. The meet was aired live on ESPN, showing the rising popularity of NCAA gymnastics, and gaining the Pioneers national attention. Denver debuted new uniforms, sporting ¾ sleeve leotards with black on the bottom, white on the top, and gold rhinestones scalloped over the white, with gold and tan V back.
Like all visiting teams in a dual meet, Denver started the day on bars. Lone Tree native, freshman Mia Hebinck, set a new career-high of 9.9 on bars, which was the highest score for DU on the event. Mia was added into the rotation at the last minute due to her strong warm-up just before the event. All six Pioneers scored a 9.8 or better on bars. The home team Sooners went in Olympic order, starting on vault. At the end of the first rotation, the two teams were tied at 49.325.
The second rotation had the Pioneers on vault and Sooners on bars. Denver was led by graduate student and Big XII Gymnast of the Week, Lynnzee Brown with a 9.975. Once again, all six Pioneers finished with 9.8 or better. But Oklahoma pulled ahead with a stellar bar lineup and great stuck landings. Team scores were 98.6 to 98.875 at the halfway point of today’s meet.
— Denver Gymnastics (@DU_Gymnastics) January 30, 2022
Sooners were on beam for the 3rd rotation and though their second athlete, Jordan Bowers, had a fall, her teammates battled back to keep them on top. Carly Woodard topped the day with a 10.0 on beam, which was the first 10 of her career. Denver’s Brown was injured in her final tumbling pass on floor and was unable to complete her routine. She was pulled from the final rotation on beam. After the third rotation, Oklahoma led by 1.0.
The final event of the meet for the Pioneers was beam, where they were ranked #1 in the nation. Denver, down their lead-off athlete, Brown, had last-minute lineup changes for the second time today. Freshman Momoko Iwai started the Pioneers off strong with a 9.85. Graduate student, Mia Sundstrom stepped into the anchor spot to fill the Pioneer’s lineup without having warmed up pre-meet. She finished the day with a 9.275. Oklahoma had a great showing on floor; five of their six athletes earned 9.9 or higher. With today’s strong finish, Oklahoma joins Florida and Michigan as one of only three teams who have scored above a 198 in 2022. The Sooners bested Denver 198.2 to 196.625. Oklahoma’s Audrey Davis finished 1st in the all-around with a 39.6, and Denver’s Alexandria Ruiz finished 2nd with a 39.25.