Gymnastics Wins Despite Multiple Lineup Changes

The biggest sporting event of the year was last Sunday, but a few of us also made some time to head to Magness to watch the Pioneers gymnastics team beat West Virginia in a Big 12 Conference showdown.

Although it was a win for DU, the team’s national ranking dropped to #10 from #8 last week. This was based on some inconsistent performances and multiple substitutions in the lineup due to illness and injury. Head coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart reported that a few starters were resting this week. Although she didn’t say it, I suspect they are working through some injuries. The team’s 197.125 score is the lowest team score since week one’s 196.925. Luckily when we go to NQS for national rankings next week, these scores will be dropped. But all other teams will also be dropping their low scores. DU really needs to get more consistent scores in the 9.9s to keep up their top 10 ranking.

On vault, Junior Rosie Casali did not compete, putting DU back to only having three 10.0 start value vaults. Overall vault performances showed improvement over last week with some strong stuck landings. But one less 10.0 start value is a step in the wrong direction.

Graduate student Alexandria Ruiz was in the lead-off spot on bars and she turned in a  good performance with accuracy on her handstands and a stuck landing on her dismount. From there, it looked like the bars were off for the team. It was little deductions here and there, with a lot of muscle required to keep the routines on track. In bars, the best routines have good swing . When a gymnast needs to muscle through to maintain control, it’s a bad sign. That’s what we saw from multiple DU gymnasts in this rotation. Ultimately the team recorded six hit routines, but not as good as we need to see at this point in the season. Graduate student Lynnzee Brown muscled through, relying heavily on her air awareness and experience to turn in a clean routine. The fact that she scored a 9.95 is a testament to her greatness!

Beam performances were on par with what we’ve seen from DU the past few weeks. No major improvements. Sophomore Momoko Iwai was back in the lineup after a week off. Notably she took out her triple acro series, which is what she fell on in week 4. She appeared to have trouble on that series in warm-ups week 5, which is likely why she didn’t compete on beam that week. We saw freshmen Ava Mabanta in the lineup for the second week in a row. Unfortunately she took a fall and her score had to be dropped. Coming in clutch after her performance were Juniors Abbie Thompson and Riley Mundell, who both scored 9.9s.

There were three things to note on floor:

  1. Last week’s breakout viral 10.0 routine was missing from the lineup. Junior Jessica Hutchinson did not compete on three of the four events, completing only vault.
  2. The judges here were finding deductions that the rest of the country’s judges would not have taken. I guarantee you if Hutchinson had done the previous week’s routine, this set of judges would not have given her the 10.
  3. Third, and most notably, DU legend, Lynnzee Brown joined the lineup. While she was not at her peak performance, it was sheer joy seeing her on the floor. Look for an upcoming blog to detail her meaningful floor comeback. This was the first time this season that Lynnzee turned in an All Around score. Hopefully a sign of things to come!

Coming up in week 7, DU will be at Air Force Academy battling these Colorado judges yet again. They have only four days between competitions, so hopefully, the athletes who were “resting” in week 6 are back at it in week 7. I’d like to see the team show more consistency in the lineup and in individual performances. I’d love to see more of Lynnzee Brown in the floor lineup if for nothing more than the sheer joy of her performance.

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