DU Gymnastics Has Sights Set on Super Six
Team begins postseason play this weekend with the Big 12 Championships
When you set foot inside the Gates Fieldhouse, it’s hard not to sense the confidence and determination that exists within the gym. With that also comes a feeling of lack of respect.
“We definitely do have a chip on our shoulder,” says Maddie Karr, a sophomore on DU’s women’s gymnastics team. “I think we are proving that we really are a force to be reckoned with.”
The team begins postseason play this weekend with the Big 12 Championships. They wrapped up the regular season ranked inside the top 15 on all four events — bars (No. 8), vault (No. 11), floor (No. 12) and beam (No. 15). With this all-around success, fans could argue the team deserves to be ranked higher than No. 13.
“This year in particular, I don’t believe the rankings are an accurate reflection of where the teams are from strength, from consistency, from confidence,” says head coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart. “I think that has been reflected in the last several competitions.”
The Pioneers ended the regular season by posting their highest road score of the year. The week before that, Denver defeated two teams with higher rankings. And on senior night, the team’s last home meet of the season, DU posted its third-highest score in program history.
“I definitely feel like we are peaking at the right time,” says junior Claire Kern. “The intensity in practice has revved up a little bit, and I feel that has benefited everyone. We have come out really strong and confident and so that’s been fun to watch.”
Topping last year’s postseason performance will not be easy. The Pioneers finished second in the Big 12 Championships and made it to the semifinals of the NCAA National Championships. Even though the team recorded its highest score in program history, it fell two spots shy of making it to the Super Six.
“I think we were so focused last year on making it to nationals that once we got there, we were not focused on making it to the Super Six,” says senior Nikole Addison. “We now know what it takes to get there, so we are better prepared over last year.”
Even though only a sophomore, Karr has been a leader for the team. She is nationally ranked in all four events and this year has set new career highs on bars, beam and the all-around. Three other Pioneers also enter the postseason ranked nationally — Addison on floor, junior Kaitlyn Schou on beam and freshman Emily Glynn on bars. However, Kutcher-Rinehart knows that once postseason competition begins, you can throw out the rankings and regular season scores.
“Everyone starts at a 10, and it’s the same for everyone,” she says. “On any given night, of course, anything is possible, and I think we are just as competitive as anyone in the country.”