Category Archives: Gymnastics

Twenty One Year Journey Ends at Mountain Top

DU did not win a national gymnastics title Saturday night. The University of Oklahoma (198.3375), DU’s Big 12 Conference mate,  brought home the title with Denver settling into 4th place in their first NCAA Gymnastics Finals.

Still, Denver’s journey ended with the elite company of #1 UCLA, #2 Oklahoma and #3 LSU. Far from an ‘overnight sensation’,  Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart and her upstart program fought headwinds to build a regional powerhouse- 18 straight NCAA appearances. But, Saturday’s NCAA Gymnastics Final Four vaulted (pardon the pun) DU onto the national stage and into the NCAA gymnastics psyche. And these Pioneers just might be planting a flag next time. Continue reading Twenty One Year Journey Ends at Mountain Top

DU Gymnastics Makes History, Advances to NCAA Final Four

Photo: Courtesy of Denver Gymnastics Twitter

The Denver Pioneer Gymnastics made program history as (#5)-seeded Pioneers rocked the NCAA Gymnastic Championships Friday in Fort Worth, Texas and when the smoke cleared, the Pioneers posted a 197.0375 score to beat nine-time NCAA Champion Georgia and Oregon State to join No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 UCLA and No. 3 LSU in Saturday night’s NCAA Gymnastics Finals (5 p.m. MT/ESPNU). DU had never made to the final 4 teams in program history.

“We are thrilled for this opportunity to advance,” head coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart said in a press release. “I’m incredibly proud of our team and our student-athletes. They have continued to show tremendous character, competitiveness and consistency, and we are incredibly proud.”

Look, while we are not gymnastic experts at LetsGoDU with the knowledge to thoroughly analyze today’s performances, we do know a great thing when we see it.

With top-ranked Oklahoma cruising to a win and the top seed in the Pioneers’ evening semi final, DU was fighting off the Georgia Bulldogs and Oregon State for the final qualification spot in the Final Four, as UCLA and LSU had already qualified in the afternoon session. In the end, it came down the final rotation in the semi-final.  Heading into the fourth and final rotation, Denver was tied with Oregon State for second with a 147.650. Senior and co-team DU captain Claire Kern lead off the bars rotation with a 9.8375 to set the tone for the Pioneers. Ruiz scored a 9.875 in the second spot while Mia Sundstrom and Emily Glynn followed with 9.850s. Lynzee Brown continued DU’s momentum with a 9.900, and Maddie Karr clinched the team finals berth with her 9.9125. The Pioneers were jubilant, and history was made.

This Denver team, the only private school in the finals,  is making history against the elite blue-blood programs of gymnastics. Tomorrow,  Denver will compete in their first gymnastics NCAA  finals ever and has a chance, yet again, to create even more history. Should they win Saturday night, they would be the first women’s team at DU to win a national team title at the D-I level. And, despite the odds, nothing seems out of reach for this group. And even if they don’t win it, DU has served notice that it is an elite-level program. Continue reading DU Gymnastics Makes History, Advances to NCAA Final Four

DU Gymnastics Advances to the Elite 8

Photo: Denver Twitter

#5 Denver Gymnastics swept the NCAA Corvallis Regional to advance to the Elite 8 in Ft. Worth, Texas. The Pioneers stunned #4 Oregon along with #12 Boise State and #15 Oregon State to win the regional championship, a first for the DU program. This season also marks the 16th straight NCAA gymnastics tournament appearance for the Pioneers.

Continue reading DU Gymnastics Advances to the Elite 8

Pioneering Excellence this Winter

Denver’s upset of top-five Stony Brook was a milestone in the Pioneers’ program development. Photo: Marc Piscotty

While men’s hockey and lacrosse take up the lion’s share of fan interest for most Pioneer fans, it’s important to recognize some other DU athletic teams who continue to climb higher into national prominence and greater conference impact:

  • The 13th-ranked DU women’s lacrosse team beat its very first top five opponent since coach Liza Kelly took the helm in 2006, upsetting (#6/#4) Stony Brook (N.Y.) University, 11-7, behind Bea Behrins’ three-goal hat trick. This was a statement win for the program.  The Pios have been a top-20 program for a while now, but have had trouble beating the very top echelon teams. Sunday’s win over SBU kept DU undefeated at 4-0 and may see the Pioneers knocking on the door of a top-10 ranking. The Michigan Wolverines come to town this Tuesday to face the surging Pioneers for a 12 noon start.
  • The sixth-ranked DU women’s gymnastics team scored its second highest all-time score (and the highest score of this season) with a 197.725 on Sunday afternoon before over 4,000 fans at Magness Arena, to win the meet over Iowa State and Boise State. This kind of scoring should keep DU in the hunt for a top-five national ranking as the season moves into the stretch run.
  • The DU men’s (#24th nationally) and (#47) women’s swim teams once again won the Summit League title for the sixth year in a row. DU was so dominant at the Summit League Championships that the DU women set an all-time league record for points, and DU mens and women swimmers won 37 of 38 of the swimming events overall.  That’s an incredible achievement – perhaps the swimming equivalent of winning the Summit League basketball title game by 30 points, and repeating the winning margin for six straight years.
  • DU women’s basketball (15-12, 8-6 Summit league) continued its rise into a winning program with a dramatic road win at North Dakota.  Often-injured senior Pioneer Haley Simental hit the long-range three point shot-of-her-college-career to send the game into overtime at the buzzer, in a game that the Pios would later win, 92-91. With the OT win, the Pios’ have earned at least a top-five seed at the Summit League tournament next month.
  • The DU women’s tennis team, ranked #40 nationally, are 7-2 this year in a sport where 317 teams compete nationally.  DU has already defeated brand name schools such as Oregon, Wisconsin, BYU and Colorado this season.

All of these teams deserve our support, and we look forward to seeing how they compete in the coming months.



Denver Scores a Perfect 10 and Near Miss Versus #1 Oklahoma

Photos: Courtesy of Hope Stafford

#7 Denver battled #1 Oklahoma in front of a record Denver gymnastics crowd of 6,100 spectators but fell 197.7 to 197.4 against the Sooners Sunday afternoon. The score was Denver’s fourth highest score in program history.

The highlight of the afternoon was provided by DU sophomore Lynnzee Brown in the floor exercise. As DU’s sixth competitor in the final rotation, Brown put on an explosive routine and received a standing ovation and perfect tens from the trio of judges. Continue reading Denver Scores a Perfect 10 and Near Miss Versus #1 Oklahoma

Big 12 rivals set to collide at Magness Arena

Photo: Courtesy of

Get ready for what may be an epic gymnastics battle Sunday between #7 Denver vs. #1 Oklahoma at Magness Arena.

Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart’s squad has always made noise in gymnastic NCAA Regionals (19 consecutive invitations) and has had their share of individual stars (Maddie Karr, Lynnzee Brown, and Jessica Lopez) to name just a few. They advanced to nationals as recently as 2008 and 2017 –  four times total in their history. However, this year’s squad may be ready to take the next step and advance to the NCAA National Team Finals April 19th and 20th in Ft. Worth, Texas. Competing against perennial national title contender #1 Oklahoma this weekend gives Denver a chance to prove that they should receive consideration as the top program in the nation – a first for DU.

To add to the drama, OU is the only team to defeat Denver this season. In late January at the Metroplex Challenge in Fort Worth, OU defeated Denver 197.975 to 196.350. Denver has a chance to return the favor to the Sooners on home soil. Continue reading Big 12 rivals set to collide at Magness Arena

DU Men’s Soccer Selected to Host NCAA Tourney Pod, will face Air Force or Central Arkansas this Sunday

Andre Shinyashiki (#9), who leads the nation in goals with 28, will lead DU into the 2018 NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament.

The University of Denver Men’s Soccer team has been not only selected for the NCAA tournament, but rewarded with a #15 seed, a bye in the first round, and will host the winner of Air Force and Central Arkansas at DU on Sunday, Nov. 18 at 3 pm MT. 

If the Pioneers should win that home game, they will face the winner of #2 seed Indiana University’s pod of Indiana, University of Connecticut or the University of Rhode Island in the third round.   The full NCAA bracket is here:

There was certainly some concern last night that DU might not get to host an NCAA tourney game this season, as its RPI had fallen to #17 on the evening of tournament selection (only 16 teams are seeded, the other 32 at-large teams play each other for the right to advance to one of the 16 seeded home sites), but fortunately for DU, the NCAA tournament committee did not use straight RPI to seed the tournament.

In looking ahead, Air Force, with an at large bid, is the far better of the two teams (RPI#26) when compared with Central Arkansas (#67). However, Air Force is not playing well right now, having lost its last two games to Grand Canyon (#53 RPI).  That said, Air Force being only an hour from the DU campus would likely bring more fans to DU for the game than Central Arkansas, the Champion of the Missouri Valley Conference.

For the Pioneers, it is likely that Sunday’s game will be the last home field opportunity to watch Senior Andre Shinyashiki play for DU.  Shinyashiki’s 28 goals this season leads the nation by wide margin, and he may be enjoying the finest season ever for a DU athlete in any sport.  He is one of the favorites for the Hermann Trophy, college soccer’s national equivalent of the Heisman Trophy in football or the Hobey Baker award in college hockey.  Should Andre win that award, he could be considered DU’s finest athlete in the modern era, given that there are only 60 teams playing D-I hockey, where DU has two Hobey Baker Winners, Matt Carle in 2006 and Will Butcher in 2017, the only two DU team sports athletes to win a national MVP trophy. Since there are 206 teams playing D-I soccer, Shinyshiki’s achievement would be arguably greater than Carle or Butcher.  DU has also had individual NCAA D-I champions in gymnastics (Nina McGee in 2016), swimming (Jack Kelso in 1962) and many in skiing over the years, but it could be argued that individual national MVP awards in team sports are greater achievements, since there are opponents directly trying to physically stop an athlete from achieving them, versus individual sports where the clock or judges’ scoring determines win or loss status.

While Shinyashiki’s achievements are spectacular this year, detractors argue that most of his goals have come against lower level opponents, and that against top-25 teams, Andre’s goal scoring is much rarer. Let’s hope Andre and DU score more goals in the coming weeks, and that DU can advance deep into the tournament.

In any event, all DU fans should come to the soccer game this Sunday to cheer on Andre and the Pioneers in the NCAA tournament.

DU Gymnastics falls in NCAA Regional, Lynnzee Brown advances to Nationals

The Denver gymnastics team had a tough draw at the NCAA Regional in Minneapolis, Minnesota Saturday. Trying to earn a return trip to nationals, the Pioneers faced a steep climb. Placed in the same bracket as powerhouse #1 Oklahoma, the remaining five teams battled it out for the only remaining auto-bid to advance to NCAA Nationals in St. Louis. As a third seed, DU was unable to slip past the number two seed, Kentucky, to advance to NCAA Nationals. All this, despite scoring one of their highest team scores ever at an NCAA Regional competition – their 19th consecutive trip.  Continue reading DU Gymnastics falls in NCAA Regional, Lynnzee Brown advances to Nationals

Pioneers reach unprecedented heights, finish in top 5 of Capital One Cup standings

After a year that saw the University of Denver athletic department experience a few exciting firsts…and an astounding, much-needed eighth, the Pioneers, DU’s men’s sports specifically, were properly recognized for a strong showing over the course of the year. As Florida topped LSU in the Men’s College World Series earlier this week, the 2016-17 NCAA Division I calendar came to an end. After the dust settled and the points were tallied, the DU men finished in the top five, number four to be exact, of the men’s Capital One Cup standings for the first time ever. Continue reading Pioneers reach unprecedented heights, finish in top 5 of Capital One Cup standings

Crimson & Gold touch propels Denver to national powerhouse status

Photo Courtesy University of Denver Magazine

LetsGoDU friend CD Dunks reminds us that there is no need to use the term ‘mid-major’. And the same goes for ‘secondary sport’ – i.e. any sport that is not called football or Power-Five conference basketball. The big question is: Has Peg Bradley-Doppes simply built one of the finest athletic department in the land?  Continue reading Crimson & Gold touch propels Denver to national powerhouse status