Denver Struggles with Season-Ending Loss of Lynnzee Brown

Authored by LetsGoDU Contributor Jill Cattrysse-Larson

DU can put this one in the Win column, but in many ways, it was a loss.  Denver was back in black (black leotards, that is) at home today, but unfortunately without their national standout, graduate student, Lynnzee Brown. Brown suffered a season-ending Achilles injury last week at Oklahoma. Denver was supposed to win today. By a lot. But today’s meet was not about beating New Hampshire. It was about national rankings and proving they are still contenders without Brown. NCAA gymnastics rankings are based on qualifying team scores and not on wins and losses.

The Pioneers started on vault. With Brown out Denver had only two 10.0 start value vaults and struggled to stick any of their vaults. Graduate student Mia Sundstrom, was the top vaulter on the Pioneers squad today, and also set a season-high 9.875. The Pioneers had difficulty with landings on the vault and had no stuck landings.

The second rotation had Denver on bars, where the struggle to stick landings continued. Graduate student Emily Glynn was the exception with an outstanding 9.9 on her routine and a stuck full-in dismount. Freshman Mia Hebinck was last week’s best bar worker, but had a fault on her pak salto, then couldn’t make her pirouette on the low bar, and had to take a fall. Such a bummer after last week’s 9.9. Sophomore Jessica Hutchinson had one handstand that was just short of vertical and a small hop on her landing. The judges debated her score (which my dad hilariously calls a brouhaha, so I’m going with that term for LetsGoDU) and Hutchinson ended up with a 9.8. Through two rotations, Denver led New Hampshire 98.225 to 96.950, but in the competition for national rankings, they had too many steps on landings to keep their spot at #7.

The third rotation had DU on Beam, an event they have been stellar on in the past, ranking as high as first nationally this season. But today’s struggles continued on beam. Hutchinson and senior Alexandria Ruiz were the two best beam workers today with a 9.9 and 9.875 respectively. But team titles are won with five outstanding scores, not two. Sadly, this isn’t top ten ranking gymnastics.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire was on floor, and the judges had more brouhahas. But seriously, New Hampshire had some great floor choreography and was really fun to watch. Freshman Gracie Mowers had the most entertaining routine to every popular wedding reception line dance song from the last three decades. You won’t be seeing any of these routines go viral, though, the Wildcats had to count multiple falls on the event.

Finally, the Pioneers went to floor, while the Wildcats finished on beam. Hutchinson was the top scorer for DU, with a beautiful and clean routine, scoring a 9.925. Hutchinson also won the All-Around today with a score of 39.450. Ruiz took second in the All-Around for the second week in a row with a 39.275. Ruiz can’t seem to break into the 9.9s on any event, and although she’s a strong contributor to the team, she needs to find a way to earn those tenths. Over on beam, the judges had more brouhahas. Today’s judges just couldn’t agree on New Hampshire’s scores.

Denver ended up winning 196.125 to 193.625. Yes, still a win. But for reference, average team scores of 196.125 is only good enough for 17th place. Hopefully, the Pioneers can chalk this one up as a rough day and come back next week stronger. Lets Go DU!

Photo: Courtesy of Denver Athletics

5 thoughts on “Denver Struggles with Season-Ending Loss of Lynnzee Brown”

  1. I appreciate the summary. Sounds like a rough day, and rough news about Lynnzee. Maybe this is not the magical year. But I hope the team rebounds, and finds the motivation and focus to have a good rest of the season.

  2. Sad for DU that this DU team will likely not be a national factor without Lynzee. The depth just isn’t there. College gymnasts are mostly on the downside of their careers in a sport where many peak as teens, and injuries come with the territory.

    Brown was, along with Nina McGee, one of the two greatest gymnasts to wear the Crimson and Gold. She will always be a DU legend!

    1. I strongly disagree with your comment that “College gymnasts are mostly on the downside of their careers…” That may be the case for some elite gymnasts whose goals are making an Olympic team and they end up on a college team as a consolation prize. But DU recruits largely from Junior Olympic (JO) ranks. JO gymnasts work towards peaking at the NCAA. They strive for perfection in level 10 to get recruited, then hone their skills in the NCAA. The difference between elite gymnastics and JO is huge. Different rules, different expectations, different goals. Throughout the NCAA there are also great success stories of former elite gymnasts winning championships with great joy and some of the best gymnastics of their lives. NCAA doesn’t require the massive skills that elite does, but it expects perfection. That’s why we still have the perfect 10.0 in NCAA.

      Also, the idea that “many peak as teens” is being proven wrong in recent years. The COVID pandemic actually taught the international gymnastics community a lot about training, age, and comeback potential. Simone Biles and MyKayla Skinner proved that you don’t have to peak as teens i this sport. And if you haven’t followed Chellsie Memmel’s amazing comeback journey over the last two years, it’s truly inspiring. The sport is evolving, and I think in a very positive way!

      But I will 100% agree with your comment about Nina McGee and Lynnzee Brown being two legends from DU. Nina put DU on the map with her stunning floor championship, and Lynnzee put DU on the national podium! I hope Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart signs more like them in the future!

  3. Jill, thanks for the insight! I was at the meet yesterday and could tell there was just something “off” about the Pio’s. I’m no expert, so I won’t pass judgment or guess on what was going on. I have a feeling that the team will rebound for next weekend against Iowa State.

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