Denver gymnastics took 2nd to #1 ranked Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championships at West Virginia on Saturday, March 18. DU Junior, Jessica Hutchinson took second in the All Around and earned Big 12 gymnast of the year. Final team scores were:
- 198.4 Oklahoma
- 197.175 Denver
- 196.225 West Virginia
- 193.75 Iowa State
- sorry….Big 12 gymnastics only has 4 teams
While taking second to Oklahoma is nothing to be ashamed of, the Pioneers’ team total is the lowest score DU has seen in a month. It is also nearly a point lower than the season-high score. That’s not moving in the right direction heading into Regionals.
DenverPioneers.com reports this is the fourth-highest Big 12 score in DU history. Well, DU gymnastics has only been in the Big 12 since 2016. So this is also the 4th lowest Big 12 score in DU history.
It has been a huge season for Denver gymnastics, and I’ve gone on record saying this is the best team DU has ever fielded. But the team has yet to put together an entire meet with strong scores on all four events. It seems like every meet recap has at least one “in spite of” that shows where one event was weaker than the other three. Even the program record 198.15 achieved on March 5 was “in spite of” low vault team scores. The February 24th meet where DU set all-time vault records, they had season-low scores on bars. The team is out of time for consistency and we might have to rely on luck and home team advantage for a chance at Nationals.
At the Big 12 Championships, it was floor that was the undoing of the Pioneers. The Big 12 live stream didn’t show all of Denver’s floor rotation, so I can’t speak to how their performances went other than to say I know junior Rosie Casali took a fall which forced Denver to count junior Abbie Thompson’s 9.625 for the team score. Graduate student Lynnzee Brown landed her first tumbling pass, a double layout, with her chest down and a step forward due to being under-rotated, resulting in a 9.8.
The Big 12 Championship was the first meet that put the Pioneers “on podium” which is the gymnastics term meaning all of the gymnastics equipment is up on raised platforms, like a stage. Competing on podium makes the landing surface slightly wobbly, and can make the beam and bars feel different because they are not anchored to the floor itself. The experience can also be disorienting to gymnasts because suddenly the 4′ beam is now 7′ off the floor and visual cues a gymnast relies on are no longer there. I have to think a few of the uncharacteristic mistakes seen at the Big 12 meet may have been due to this aspect.
But it’s not all bad news. Multiple athletes hit season highs or career highs. Junior Rylie Mundell tied for vault champion with a gorgeous Yurchenko 1.5 and a 9.95. Senior Callie Schlottman was substituted in the beam rotation, competing for only the third time this season, and hit a career high 9.95. Jessica Hutchinson tied her career-high All Around score of 39.625. Jessica also tied for the win on floor with a 9.95.
Pioneers gymnastics has a lot to be proud of in this conference championship meet. It would have taken a record-breaking score and major mistakes from OU to pull out a win. Gymnastics championships are more about consistency than heroics. So I’m not at all upset that DU took second. I just wish it was an overall team performance that at least met the season average. The downside is that Regionals are next and in order to advance, DU is going to need heroics.