We’re nearing the end of opening weekend! A few top 10 teams are competing this afternoon, including last season’s Big 12 champion Denver. The Pioneers advanced to the regional final in 2021, thanks in part to a standout senior class. Superstar Lynnzee Brown came within striking distance of the NCAA all-around title and recorded three 10.0 scores during the postseason. This year she’s back, as are fellow seniors Emily Glynn and Mia Sundstrom. Their veteran leadership will fuel a team that loses only one routine and gains two strong freshmen. Momoko Iwai and Mia Hebinck both competed three events at the most recent intrasquad, so look for them to make their debuts today. They’ll join a sophomore class that made a huge impact last season and is poised for big things again in 2022.
San Jose State enters the meet after finishing No. 51 in last year’s final rankings. The Spartans didn’t compete until the end of February and struggled to find consistency during their abbreviated 2021. A strong bars and floor squad, the team is led by sophomore Lauren MacPherson and former UCLA Bruin Mercedes Sanchez. Four freshmen have been added to the mix, hoping to crack the lineups despite SJSU losing no routines from 2021. This team is hungry for the opportunity to compete, and today it will get the opportunity to seize it.
Denver needs to start the season with a strong score at home if it wants to keep pace with the rest of the nation’s best. San Jose State will look to build on the potential it demonstrated last year and make some big improvements. There’s nothing like the first meet. Let’s get started!
COVID-19 update: Both Denver and SJSU do have a small number of cases that will affect their lineups. It’s unclear which athletes have been affected, but it appears there will be at least six gymnasts in each lineup.
Denver tentative lineups: https://twitter.com/DU_Gymnastics/status/1480282375279894530?s=20
San Jose State tentative lineups: https://twitter.com/SanJoseStateGYM/status/1480271410987634689?s=20
Rotation 1: Denver VT, San Jose State UB
Ruiz (Denver): Strong Yurchenko full with a small hop back, slightly off to the side. 9.700.
Lopes (SJSU): Huge Shaposh and bail combo to start, excellent handstand on the high bar. Giant full into a sky high double tuck with a stick. Great routine to start! 9.875!
Sundstrom (Denver): Nice full with good height and a small hop back. She’s excited about that one. 9.825.
Weyhmiller (SJSU): Short on the opening handstand, big straddle Yaeger with a better handstand after. Misses the final handstand a bit, good double layout to finish with a step back. 9.750.
Hutchinson (Denver): Beautiful full with big height and a flare. Small hop back. 9.800.
MacPherson (SJSU): Nice opening handstand, close to the bar on the Tkatchev, great final handstand, full pirouette into a full-twisting double back. Hard combo! Small step. 9.725.
Glynn (Denver): Tsuk full with a hop back. Great height and form in the air. 9.825.
Milne (SJSU): Big Shaposh and pak combo to start, a bit short on the low bar handstand but the high bar one was better. Nice double layout to finish, a bit of leg separation and a small hop back. 9.800.
Mundell (Denver): STICKS THE 1.5! Beautiful vault. Maybe a hop upward in slow-mo. That’ll be a good score. 9.925.
Mazury (SJSU): Nice height on the piked Yaeger, tight form in the pak salto. Missed handstand on the high bar. Beautiful double layout to finish with a stuck landing! 9.925!
L. Brown (Denver): Huge 1.5 with a small hop forward. Good start to the season for her. 9.850.
Solomon (SJSU): Slightly short on the opening handstand. Toe on piked Tkatchev way too close to the bar, causes a form break on the overshoot. Amazing she saved that. Good finish but glad they won’t have to count it. 9.325.
Looks like Merces Sanchez is doing an exhibition!
Sanchez (SJSU, exhibition): Big straddle Yaeger to start, a couple of missed handstands and the double layout dismount was underrotated with a hop forward.
AFTER ONE: Denver 49.225, San Jose State 49.075
A solid start to the season for Denver. Big vaults with minor landing deductions. Mundell’s vault was great, one of the best she’s done in college. That’s great to see! The Pioneers will be hoping to add some difficulty throughout the season on this event, but it looks like they can achieve scores into the 9.8s even without 10.0 starts. SJSU looked fantastic on bars! Such an improvement for this lineup, and there were some big scores that could challenge for event titles. Wonderful to see the Spartans competing in January and keeping things close. A great first rotation with both teams going 49+!
Rotation 2: San Jose State VT, Denver UB
Kelperis (SJSU): Tsuk full, some pike down and leg separation in the air. Small hop back. 9.775
Ruiz (Denver): Strong handstand to start, full pirouette right on top of the bar, Tkatchev to bail, tight form on the double layout with a small shuffle on landing. Great start! 9.825
Mazury (SJSU): Yurchenko half-on back pike off, pretty good form but slightly off to the side. Hop back. 9.775
Casali (Denver): Big Shaposh to start, slightly short on the high bar handstand, has to pike down on the double layout but almost sticks it. 9.775
MacPherson (SJSU): Yurchenko full with a hop back. Good vault with strong form and a bit of flare! 9.775.
Sundstrom (Denver): Free-hip to slightly short handstand, good Tkatchev, short on a couple of handstands but sticks the double layout. She is pumped! 9.850.
Gentry (SJSU): Slightly bent knees in the air, great height and just a small height on landing. 9.750.
Glynn (Denver): Big height on the Geinger, lands right in handstand on overshoot, great form on the full-twisting double back dismount. Nails the landing! 9.875.
Kirsch (SJSU): Yurchenko tucked 1.5, small step forward. Strong form in the air. Love seeing this different vaults! 9.800
Mundell (Denver): HUGE Tkatchev to start, hitting the handstands well. Floaty double layout to finish, a bit locked-legged on the landing and that causes a small hop backward. Another strong routine. 9.900.
Lopes (SJSU): Big Yurchenko full with a big step back. Nice air and strong form. 9.725.
L. Brown (Denver): Shaposh to Pak connection, good handstands, a bit piked down on the double layout. Small hop forward. Nice end to a great lineup for Denver! 9.825.
Rotation 2 Scores: Denver 49.275, San Jose State 48.875
AFTER TWO: Denver 98.500, San Jose State 97.950
San Jose State is still hanging in there! This could be a fantastic team score if they can bring this level of consistency to the rest of the meet. Denver looked great on bars. Easy to see why they were ranked so high last season. It’s an event they’ll hope to add some of the freshmen into as well. Might see some huge bars scores from them in the coming weeks! Mundell looks like she’s going to have a great year. Watch out for her in the all-around! My fanboy heart is also loving the joy that Sundstrom showed today. She’s dealt with injuries a lot during her career and seeing her thrilled to be back in the lineups for one more season is making me remember why I love this sport!
Rotation 3: Denver BB, San Jose State FX
L. Brown (Denver): Kickover front directly connected to bhs, no wobble. Solid full turn, hits the splits well on leap series. Front aerial to split jump, another strong landing. Gainer full twist off the side with a small step forward. That was the only error I noticed. Strong start for Denver. 9.825.
Marquez (SJSU): Opens with a half twist into a Rudi, landed well. A pause in between the switch leap and wolf jump combo. Finishes with a double back, chest a bit low and a step back. Solid start. 9.750.
E. Brown (Denver): Lovely to see the transfer back in the lineup! Floaty front aerial connected to back tuck, no wobble. Good execution on the sheep jump. A strong side aerial with another solid landing. Sticks the gainer full dismount! Fantastic routine! She looks happy to be competing for the first time since 2020. Ties her career high with a 9.850.
Lopes (SJSU): Sky high double pike to start, beautiful switch full into a Popa. Second pass 1.5 to front layout with a solid landing. Finishes with a good double back and a small hop forward. 9.800.
Schlottman (Denver): Slight balance correction the leg up full turn, appears to save the bhs loso series but unfortunately falls at the last moment. Recovering will with a perfect side aerial. Bhs gainer full dismount with a tiny step. 9.225.
Kelperis (SJSU): Opens with a 1.5 to front full, good landing. Good height on the tour jete half. Strong double back to finish, a bit of flexed feet but great landing. Should be happy with that one. 9.750.
Mabanta (Denver): Opens with a wolf turn, showing great toe point so far. Perfect bhs loso series. Beautiful switch half, decides to skip the connection and add another jump later. Switch leap to improvised switch half, small wobble. Good bhs to 1.5 dismount with a strong landing. Strong recovery routine! 9.775.
MacPherson (SJSU): Beautiful form and height in the double pike to start. Switch ring to straddle quarter, hit well. Back 1.5 to front layout second pass. Crowd gasps as she drops into the splits from a switch leap. Great double back to finish! Another good one! 9.850.
Thompson (Denver): Hits the side aerial to loso acro series, looks confident up there. Nice leap series, solid full turn. Nails the side aerial to full twist dismount. Great routine! 9.850.
Mazury (SJSU): Punch front layout into a Rudi, good landing. Huge height and strong split on the straddle leap combo. Ends with a strong double pike, controlled lunge. 9.850.
Mundell (Denver): Nice acro series to start, misses the split slightly and has to pause on the leap combo, slight wobble on another acro series, good dismount with a small hop forward. Solid end to the rotation but not the routine she might have been hoping for. Pretty nervy. 9.850.
Orcutt (SJSU): Nice double pike opening tumble, misses the split position on both the ring leap and split leap in her combo. Ends with a front full front full combination. A good finish to another strong rotation for SJSU! 9.775
Rotation 3 Scores: Denver 49.150, San Jose State 49.000
AFTER THREE: Denver 147.650, San Jose State 146.950
Denver with another solid rotation and on pace for a great opening score. There were some nerves throughout the rotation, but the Pioneers made sure Schlottman’s fall didn’t derail what a great day the team is having. I can’t say enough about San Jose State – they look great today! Another 49 score on floor, and on pace for a solid 195 if the beam lineup can hit. That would be major for this program. Regardless, it has broken its 2021 highs on every event! This last rotation should be a good one!
Rotation 4: San Jose State BB, Denver FX
Weyhmiller (SJSU): Good switch leap to switch half to beat jump connection. Very big bend at the hips on bhs loso series, really fights to save it. Side aerial to full twist dismount, step back. Good fight to start the rotation! That was also her first beam routine in college. 9.525.
Mabanta (Denver): Opens with a 1.5 to front layout, strong landing. Beautiful switch ring half to split jump series. Punch front layout to Rudi to finish. Great start! 9.875.
Mazury (SJSU): Small wobble on the side aerial. Slight correction on the full turn. Patient on the bhs loso and avoids a wobble. Solid beat jump to straddle half combo, finishes with a roundoff 1.5 dismount, small hop forward. A solid routine SJSU will be happy to count! 9.800.
E. Brown (Denver): Opens with a roundoff 2.5, landed well. Slightly below split in the leap combo. Good landing on 1.5 to front layout, maybe some form in the air. Finishes with a front handspring Rudi. Great routine! 9.800.
Lopes (SJSU): Bhs bhs loso series, slight wobble but great to see the difficulty. Another small wobble on leap combo. Side aerial to tucked full twist dismount, sticks it! The team is hyped for that one! Great to see! 9.775.
Mundell (Denver): Huge double pike goes oob after a big step. Punch front layout into front full is solid. Beautiful punch Rudi to finish. That could be a big score when she stays in bounds. 9.775.
MacPherson (SJSU): Solid leap combo to start. Rock solid on the bhs bhs loso series. Beautiful full turn. Gainer loso no wobbles. Sticks the roundoff 1.5. Awesome routine! 9.900!
Glynn (Denver): Punch front through to double back, way too much power and takes a few steps, goes oob. Good straddle leap combo. Much better landing on the ending double pike. Won’t be a great score, but great potential for sure. 9.700.
Milne (SJSU): Side aerial to loso series rock solid. Beautiful leap into Korbut. Solid full turn. Nice leap combo and sticks the side aerial full twist dismount. Should be another great score! So happy for SJSU! 9.875.
Thompson (Denver): Big double pike to start, no way she’s going out of bounds on that one. Good straddle leap combo. Punch front layout into Rudi, good landing. That’ll be a good score for Denver. 9.925.
Kirsch (SJSU): Bhs onodi series, wobble and a bent knee but that’s so cool! Another slight wobble on the full turn. Nice leap series. Bhs 1.5 twist dismount with a small step forward. Good end to the rotation. Should be able to drop that first score. 9.650.
L. Brown (Denver): STICKS THE DOUBLE LAYOUT OH MY GOSH. I might cry. Anyway, sky high 1.5 to front layout split jump. There is Destiny’s child happening and she’s feeling it. So am I. Incredible double pike to finish. Absolutely magnificent routine. Nothing to take. 9.975.
(SJSU, exhibition): Front tuck to start, solid acro series and strong leaps. Bhs to gainer full dismount. Another hit routine! Apologies I missed the gymnast’s name.
Rotation 4 Scores: Denver 49.350, San Jose State 49.000
FINAL RESULTS: Denver 197.000, San Jose State 195.950
That looks like the Lynnzee Brown we know and love! She’s been a bit tentative throughout the day today, but that floor routine shows she’s back to challenge for all the trophies in 2022. Denver with solid floor lineup to close things out, particularly impressive considering Jessica Hutchinson wasn’t able to compete on this event today. The Pioneers could be in for some huge scores once she is back and some of the landings are under better control. What a rotation for San Jose State. Beam was a really tough event for the Spartans last year, and to hit 49 in the first meet is a huge step forward. So lovely to see them recover from a jittery first routine and close out the day well.
And with that, Denver goes 197 in its first meet of the season! That’s the highest first meet score in school history. A fantastic opening to the year with lots of room to improve. Denver should have a strong ranking after the first weekend of competition. 49.15 or above on every event shows how solid this team could be across the board, even when it’s missing some athletes. Can’t wait to see what’s next! San Jose State really showed up today. A high 195 to start the season is no joke, and this team is showing tremendous difficulty and improvement from last season. Another highest first meet score in school history, and the second-highest score in school history overall! Very good chance the Spartans will have a record-high team ranking after this week. I hope they can keep this up – it was such a joy watching them compete today!
VT: Mundell (Denver) 9.925
UB: Mazury (SJSU) 9.925
BB: MacPherson (SJSU) 9.900
FX: L. Brown (Denver) 9.975
AA: L. Brown (Denver) 39.475
Ryan’s Stories of the Day
Rylie Mundell started off so strong today. She looks to be picking up right where she left off last season, so expect some big all-around scores from her if she manages to stay in the lineups. It would have been great to see Denver’s two freshmen compete this afternoon, but keep in mind Hebinck and Iwai are both capable of adding strong routines on three events. I know this meet was a standout for Denver, but a lot of the biggest improvements came from San Jose State. All three of the Spartans’ all arounders went into the low 39s today, and the team shattered its 194.475 season high from last year. This could be a landmark season for SJSU, and it’s wonderful to see after a tough season in 2021. Look for big things from Coach Joanne Bowers and her squad this year!
Thanks for tuning in for what turned out to be a really solid season opener! Only one fall this afternoon, and both teams showed great difficulty. I think both these teams have the potential to do big things both in their conference and nationally. Hope everyone stays safe and has a great end to their weekend. It’s so great to have gymnastics back!
Live blog by Ryan Wichtendahl
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