TUSCALOOSA, Ala. –
The University of Denver women's gymnastics team opened its 2019 season with a bang, upsetting No. 6 Michigan and host No. 18 Alabama on Friday night.
Denver posted the second-highest season opening score in program history, a 196.275, to win for the first time ever over Alabama (196.175). It's DU's third victory over Michigan (196.025) and first since 2007.
Bowling Green rounded out the quad meet with a 189.675.
"It was, top to bottom, a complete team effort tonight," head coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart
said. "This team has a calm confidence about them. We talked about not focusing on scores but staying focused on one event at a time, one routine at a time.
"The team's motto is 'locked in,' and you could see that mentally and physically tonight. This is a very special team."
The Pioneers began the evening on beam, tallying a 49.000. Junior Maddie Karr
(Stillwater, Minn.) tied for second overall with a 9.850. Three DU gymnasts earned 9.800s, starting with senior Kaitlyn Schou
(Orlando, Fla.). Junior Courtney Loper
(West Des Moines, Iowa), returned to the lineup for the first time since her freshman season to also earn a 9.800. In her collegiate debut, freshman Alexis Vasquez
(Arcadia, Calif.) posted a 9.800 as well, which ties the fourth-highest beam score by a DU freshman in her first meet.
DU moved to floor for the second rotation and posted a 48.975, highlighted by a third-place-tying 9.875 from sophomore Lynnzee Brown
(Kansas City, Mo.). Schou and Karr went 9.825 and 9.800, respectively. In another collegiate debut, freshman Alexandria Ruiz
(Lake Mary, Fla.) scored a 9.750.
On vault, Denver earned a 49.025. Brown once again led the lineup with a career-tying 9.925 that was the second-highest vault score of the meet. Karr added another 9.825 while sophomore Mia Sundstrom
(Boulder, Colo.) earned a 9.775. DU added 9.750s from Schou and junior Diana Chesnok
Denver finished the meet with its best performance of the night, earning a 49.275 on bars with all six scores above 9.800. Senior Claire Kern
(Charlotte, N.C.) led off the rotation with a 9.850, which Brown later matched. Sundstrom and sophomore Emily Glynn
(Longmont, Colo.) each had 9.825s. Karr and Ruiz had team-leading 9.875s to capture the event title. Ruiz's 9.875 matches the second-best bars score by a Denver freshman in her first collegiate meet.
Brown and Karr finished second and third, respectively, in the all-around – Brown with a 39.400 and Karr a 39.350.
After the meet, Kutcher-Rinehart added, "There is certainly a lot of room for improvement. We're going to take the confidence from this meet and continue to improve. But for the first meet of the year – and on the road – I couldn't be more proud of their character and resiliency."
About the freshmen competing for the first time in their Denver careers, Kutcher-Rinehart said, "Alex and Alexis did a terrific job in their first collegiate meet, and they add depth and competiveness to this team."
The University of Denver women's gymnastics team, presented by Your Hometown Toyota Stores, will host its home opener next Saturday, January 19, against Central Michigan, Sacramento State and Texas Woman's at 6 p.m. in Hamilton Gymnasium.
Season tickets are still available starting at $35, and single meet tickets are also on sale. Tickets can be purchased online
or by calling the Ritchie Center Box Office at 303-871-4625.
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