Authored by LetsGoDU Contributor Jill Cattrysse-Larson
Well sports fans, and statistics lovers, welcome to week 8 of NCAA gymnastics! This is the week in every season that the national rankings switch from average scores to National Qualifying Scores (NQS). The NQS is determined by the gymnasts’ top 7 scores, of which at least 3 must be from away meets, dropping the highest score, and then averaging the remaining 5 scores. This takes away some of the advantages of teams who have friendly home judges and who have great home crowds. Each week from here out, teams have a chance to improve their NQS by nudging out lower scores with higher ones. This is when consistency and constant improvement becomes really important.
Using the NQS, Denver moved up from 12th to 11th. The Pios got to drop last week’s abysmal 195.05 from the Metroplex Challenge in Fort Worth, TX. And their highest team score to date was a 197.6 at West Virginia, which is dropped for now, until they top it. On individual events, DU is ranked 7th on bars, 10th on beam and vault, and 20th on floor. In the past four years, DU has regularly been top five on beam with stars like grad student Lynnzee Brown (who is out for the season with an injury), sophomore Abbie Thompson (who has missed the last three meets with an injury), and senior Alexis Vasquez who left the team after her junior year.
DU team scores by events through 2022 week 7:
In individual rankings, only graduate student Emily Glynn and sophomore Rylie Mundell made the top 15 in NQS rankings. They are tied for 12th on bars with a 9.885 NQS. Sophomore Jessica Hutchinson will break into the NQS ranking big time when she gets enough scores to calculate a NQS. She is currently ranked 46th on vault, the only event she has competed at six meets. But vault is her lowest-scoring event. She has been in the all-around the last three meets, and has won all three. She was named the Big XII Gymnast of the week for two weeks in a row (2022 weeks 6 and 7). Hutchinson missed multiple events in the first four weeks of the season as she recovered from a COVID infection.
In other injury news, DU has announced that grad student Mia Sundstrom is out the rest of the season with an achilles injury. Mia was on a great comeback run, fighting her way into the all-around for the Pios after multiple injuries cut previous seasons short. It’s a tough loss for the team and another premature ending to an outstanding gymnastics career. Sundstrom posted on Twitter, “I’m grateful for the 5th year, for the love and support, and for the journey gymnastics has taken me over the past 20 years.” Look for her on the sidelines with gymnast-turned-photographer Lynnzee Brown cheering loudest for her fellow Pios. All three of last year’s seniors on the DU team returned for a 5th year of eligibility due to the 2020 season being cut short from COVID. Of them, only Emily Glynn is still standing. Gymnastics can be an unforgiving sport.
The challenge for the rest of the season will be for Head Coach Melissa-Kutcher Rinehart and her staff to use their depth and give valuable experience to less experienced student-athletes. While these injuries may test this team’s NCAA Tournament chances, they could be a positive for Denver for next season and beyond.
Didn’t know this would be my last time competing, but boy did I enjoy every second of it with the most incredible team. I’m grateful for this 5th year, for the love and support, and for the journey gymnastics has taken me on over the past 20 years. Let’s go @DU_Gymnastics💪 pic.twitter.com/LHuTieFhev
— Mia Sundstrom (@miasundstrom99) February 24, 2022
DU will be at home this Sunday at 2:00 pm MT versus Air Force in Magness, airing on Altitude Sports.
Photo: Courtesy of University of Denver Athletics – Mia Sundstrom