Denver gymnastics put up a 197.275 against the Iowa State Cyclones on Friday, February 24. The Cyclones are at #39, so again, the Pioneers were supposed to win this one by a lot. It’s just our athletes versus the judges. The team remained ranked #10 in the nation and improved their National Qualifying Score (NQS) from 197.195 to 197.305.
In week 7 at the USAFA, Denver posted a season-high bars score of 49.55, but unfortunately followed it up in Ames with a season-low score of 49.125. I know I’m biased, but even the local commentators on ESPN+ said the scores on Denver’s bar sets seemed harsh. I would say their bars routines were good, but not great. No major mistakes, but no big hits either.
The Pioneers turned it on in the second rotation with FOUR stuck vaults. The first stick was junior Bella Mabanta’s Yurchenko full. Denver put up four 10.0 start value Yurchenko 1.5 vaults (of which three were sticks). Denver Gymnastics posted videos of these sticks in the link below. The competitors are junior Rylie Mundell, graduate student Lynnzee Brown, and junior Rosie Casali. Best part of the video is Lynnzee running up to be the first to congratulate Rosie on her perfect vault. (I say perfect, judges said 9.95.) Lynnzee’s joy leapt through my screen and brought tears to my eyes! Just try watching this and not smiling with her!
Back-to-back-to-back STUCK Yurchenko 1.5s = A new vault record again!#GoPios | #NCAAGym pic.twitter.com/5h86GSfH31
— Denver Gymnastics (@DU_Gymnastics) February 25, 2023
If Denver had put up these vault scores a week earlier at USAFA, the team score would have been a stratospheric 198.0! For reference, the highest DU team score ever was a 197.875 in 2004. This season, DU has posted 2 of the top 10 team scores of all time. In 2019, DU finished 4th at nationals, and that team has 4 of the top 10 team scores in DU history.
Denver was on floor for the third rotation. This is the lowest-scoring event for the Pioneers this season. At Iowa State, we saw a couple of mistakes in tumbling, and tenths lost to steps and low landings. The team score was average for this season, and kept the team ranked at #20 on floor. We need to see cleaner execution overall to improve the team’s national ranking. This is the biggest opportunity for improvement for the Pioneers, but improvement is doable.
The final event for Denver was beam. Unfortunately, there were a couple of uncharacteristic bobbles (albeit no falls) in this rotation. The beam team score was the lowest we’ve seen since January 21.
So in a meet that set DU records for vault, but lost unnecessary tenths on the other three events, DU still posted the second-highest road score of the season. The team just needs to put it all together for the Regional competition to earn a good seed at NCAAs. There is no doubt they can put up the scores, we just need to see the good scores all in the same day.
I mentioned that I watched this meet on ESPN+. This was the first of Denver’s meets shown on the streaming platform this year. It was great to have the opportunity to watch the Pioneers on the road.
Observations of the proceedings at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa: Hilton seats roughly 14,000 people and the stands looked almost half full. For fan experience, the Cyclones had their pep band in attendance and their full cheer squad who performed and stunted between rotations. Their student section was full of cardinal and gold in support of their home team. And all that is for a team ranked 39 in the nation. It’d be nice to see Denver fill Magness in support of our #10 team.
Your next chance to see this team in action is Sunday, March 5th at 1:45 PM. That meet will be the Denver Pioneers versus Colorado Judges…I mean, versus Towson.
Photo credit: RoadToNationals.com