Authored by LetsGoDU Contributor Jill Cattrysse-Larson
The #12 Pioneers gymnastics team beat #37 Iowa State on Sunday afternoon in Magness. Just like last week, this meet wasn’t about their competition at Magness, but about their national ranking. Although the Pioneers topped last week’s team score by seven-tenths of a point, the judges didn’t do them any favors. The Pios are attempting to climb back up the national rankings and dealing with some injuries to key athletes. If we compare Sunday’s performances to other teams around the NCAA, DU should have been scored at least four-tenths higher as a team. As it was, Denver won with a 196.850, ahead of Iowa State’s 195.775. Even though they improved their performances, Denver’s score was right at their season’s average, so ranking won’t change much this week.
The good news on Sunday was Denver’s stuck landings. In week 5, steps on landings plagued Denver, but they clearly went back to the gym last week to work! This is exactly what they need to keep doing. Sadly, the judges were unimpressed. This is not to say that Denver was perfect, but they definitely made improvements.
Vault again had only two 10.0 start value vaults (four of their six vaulters have 9.95 start value vaults). Sophomore Jessica Hutchinson continued her hit streak with a stuck yurchenko full and a 9.875. Sophomore Rylie Mundell had a gorgeous yurchenko one and a half to a stuck landing. The judges awarded it a 9.85. This was my first “What?!” of the day. Then I kept saying it.
Denver had an amazing bars rotation, but the story here is the judging. This bars team performance would have been better scored anywhere else in the NCAA. This was robbery! There were five stuck landings, great amplitude, and gorgeous gymnastics. Last week, Denver only had one stuck landing on bars dismounts, yet with five stuck landings their team score only increased by 0.25. Where the bars judges found the extra tenths to deduct is a mystery.
On beam, the Pios had one fall, so every other score had to count. They had a strong showing. Then the incompetencies in judging showed themselves again. Jessica Hutchinson had the most beautiful and confident routine. The crowd chanted for a 10! Her teammates chanted for a 10! One judge discretely flashed a 9.75 to her partner across the apparatus. What?! The second judge calculated a 9.95, and a brouhaha ensued. (If our readers missed last week’s blog, “brouhaha” is what we’re calling the judges conferencing.) The final score ended up being a 9.95, so clearly one of the judges took a 0.2 deduction that was not warranted. At this level of gymnastics, that is inexcusable. Two-tenths is the difference between winning at nationals and sitting in the stands watching others compete. But even a 9.95 was too low for such a great performance. Jessica Hutchinson gets a 10.0 in our book!
We love a triple flight 😍🌟 https://t.co/u9TLxbIIYU
— Nikole Addison 🇭🇹 (@NikoleAddison) February 14, 2022
One of Denver’s six routines on floor also had a fall, so the other five had to count. It was a bit of a struggle this week. These performances won’t help their national rankings. The only “What?!” this rotation was on the final score for sophomore Bella Mabanta who did land low and short in her last tumbling pass, but a 9.575 was too low for an otherwise clean routine. Just before her was Hutchinson who had another amazing performance and a 9.925. Hutchinson again won the all-around with a season-high 39.625. Denver did make some great improvements over last week and their team score was much better. The fact that they also had a few uncharacteristic mistakes means this team has more 197+ meets in their future. Keep climbing, Pios!
Photo: Courtesy of Denver Athletics