Bella Mabanta on beam

LIVE BLOG: No. 37 Iowa State at No. 12 Denver

Hello on this lovely Sunday afternoon! I think there’s a game today? Oh, right, it’s this intriguing matchup between Big 12 rivals Iowa State and Denver. Both teams will be looking for their second win in the conference, and another quality score they can count as the regular season heats up.

Iowa State comes into this meet after a scheduled week off, having beaten West Virginia with a season-best 196.225 on January 28. The win was the Cyclones’ first of 2022, and their floor score of 49.225 was the highest on any event so far this season. Junior Laura Cooke captured her second 9.900 of the season for a share of the individual title. ISU also showed improvement on balance beam, where falls have proved costly in earlier meets. It will be important for the beam lineup to remain consistent if the Cyclones want a chance to win today.

Denver was finally back at home last week after three straight road meets. With a season-ending Achilles injury to superstar senior Lynnzee Brown, and a minor injury to sophomore Abbie Thompson that could keep her out for several weeks, the Pioneers tested their depth. Freshman Momoko Iwai, junior Emma Brown and senior Mia Sundstrom were added to lineups, but the most notable bright spot was the all around return of sophomore Jessica Hutchinson. Her 39.450 was just shy of her career high, and was led by a personal best 9.900 on beam and a 9.925 on floor. While Denver proved it is still competitive with adjusted lineups, the 196.125 team score it posted last week is beatable. Just as Iowa State, the Pioneers will need to hit beam if they want to seal the victory.

This has the potential to be an exceptional competition, with conference standings on the line. So sit back, grab some party snacks, and let’s get started!

Iowa State tentative lineups

Denver tentative lineups

Rotation 1: Denver VT, Iowa State UB

Iwai (Denver): Good Yurchenko full to start! Tiny bit of pike down and some knee bend, but just a small hop back. 9.725

Maxwell (ISU): Over on the first handstand and comes off unfortunately. Much better on the handstand when she gets back on. Nice high Yaeger, good transition and final handstand. Finishes with a double layout, a bit close to the bar and a hop back. Not the start the Cyclones would have wanted. 9.075

Ruiz (Denver): Short on the Yurchenko full and lands with chest down, takes a step forward. 9.625

Palacios (ISU): Short on the first handstand, nice piked Yaeger, slightly short on the next handstand and loses form on the transition a bit. Short on the final handstand and takes a small hop on the double layout dismount. 9.725

Glynn (Denver): Tsuk full, big leg separation before the block and a bit of a deep squat on the landing with a step back. 9.825

Loyim (ISU): Perfect first handstand, great piked Yaeger, a bit short on handstands in the transition elements and on the high bar, nice form on the double layout with a small hop back. 9.675

Hutchinson (Denver): Sticks the Yurchenko full! Great height and flares it out a bit. 9.875

Cooke (ISU): Starts with Shaposh to Pak combo, good form throughout. Takes two hops on the double layout dismount. That’ll lower the score of an otherwise great routine. 9.825

Sundstrom (Denver): Nearly sticks the Yurchenko full! A tiny hop back. 9.850

Basuel (ISU): Nice first handstand, huge straddle Yaeger, hits the last handstand, nails the double layout! First stick of the day for ISU! 9.875

Mundell (Denver): Yurchenko one and a half, nice height and distance, but a bit of bent knees in the air and off to the side. Under rotates and takes a small hop back. 9.850

Orrego (ISU): Nice low bar handstand, Maloney to Pak transition, hits the final handstand, pikes down on the double layout and takes a hop forward. A good routine to end the rotation! 9.825

AFTER ONE: Denver 49.125, Iowa State 48.925

Iowa State battled back from the fall in the first spot to come within two tenths of Denver after one. The Cyclones could have capitalized a bit more on landings, but overall it was a good showing, with good form and amplitude throughout the routines. Denver started a bit slow on vault, but Hutchinson and Sundstrom produced great efforts later in the rotation. The Pioneers are definitely going to miss Brown’s 10.0 start on this event the rest of the season though. They’ll have to absolutely nail five vaults if they want to produce event scores much higher than this one.

Rotation 2: Iowa State VT, Denver UB

Orrego (ISU): Starts the rotation off with a strong Yurchenko full, chest up on landing just a small hop back. 9.775

Ruiz (Denver): Nice giant full to Tkatchev, a tiny form break on the transition, good double layout with a small hop on landing. 9.825

Parker (ISU): Yurchenko full, slightly off to the side and takes a step back. 9.775

Casali (Denver): Slightly short on the first handstand, Maloney to bail done well, short on the final handstand, big double layout with a stuck landing! 9.850

Boychuk (ISU): Great Yurchenko full with a tiny hop back. Just a small hop back. 9.850

Sundstrom (Denver): Nice first handstand, Tkatchev a bit flat but caught well, nice handstands in the transitions and on the high bar, double layout with a tiny hop back. 9.825

Bergstrom (ISU): Big Yurchenko full, chest a bit low on landing but sticks it. 9.875

Glynn (Denver): Hits the opening handstand and Geinger, great form in the transition and final giants, legs locked together on the full-twisting double back and fights for the stick. 9.900

Hong (ISU): Yurchenko one and a half, a bit low but lands with a small hop forward.

Hutchinson (Denver): Maloney to Pak, caught with no problem, good pirouette on low bar, a bit short on the final handstand, floaty double layout with a nearly stuck landing. Denver doing a great job on this event!

Maxwell (ISU): Sticks the one and a half! Not a ton of height, but good form in the air and no question on the landing. 9.900

Mundell (Denver): Nice opening handstand, huge Tkatchev with a good kip cast afterward, slightly short on the final handstand but nails the double layout. 9.925

Palacios Martin (Iowa State, exhibition): Tsuk full with a small hop back. Could be a solid lineup addition!

Hebinck (Denver, exhibition): Big time Ricna to Pak combo, great handstands, nearly sticks the double layout. Definitely deserving of a lineup spot if she can stay that consistent!

Rotation 2 Scores: Iowa State 49.225, Denver 49.375

AFTER TWO: Denver 98.500, Iowa State 98.150

Strong performances from both teams during the second rotation have the Pioneers on 197 pace and the Cyclones looking at a season high score. Iowa State had a couple of stuck vaults from Bergstrom and Maxwell, which bumps them a bit closer to Denver despite the Pioneers’ strong showing. Denver didn’t give much away on bars, and could be in for some huge scores in the future if they can control their landings early in the lineup. Should be an exciting second half!

Rotation 3: Denver BB, Iowa State FX

Iwai (Denver): Great switch leap split jump to start, rock solid bhs loso loso series, no wobbles so far. Side aerial done well, cartwheel gainer full dismount stuck. What an opening routine! 9.850

Boychuk (ISU): Nice double pike to start. One and a half into front layout a bit low, but lands well. Nicely done leap pass. Finishes with a double tuck, chest down on landing and a small step forward. 9.675

Schlottman (Denver): Slight wobble on the bhs loso series to start, nothing major. Good switch leap to straddle three-quarters. Side aerial a bit sideways but minimizes the wobble. Sticks the bhs gainer full off the side. 9.875

Cooke (ISU): Opens with a front handspring front double twist, not much rise in the connected stag jump. One and a half punch front full, some knee form in the air but good landings on both passes. 9.825

Mabanta (Denver): Wolf turn to start, keeps moving through the choreography and nails the bhs loso series. Excellent switch half to split jump series, no way they’ll take split position deductions. A bit off to the side and hops forward on the bhs one and a half dismount. 9.825

Wilke (ISU): Big full-twisting double back to start, good landing there. One and a half to front layout, well controlled. Chest low on the double pike to finish but controls the landing well. 9.775

Ruiz (Denver): Not enough height on the bhs loso and comes off, recovers with a good full turn. Side aerial to split leap done with no wobbles. Gainer pike off the end, stuck. 9.250

Andrea Maldonado (ISU): Front double twist punch front to start, lots of height and great control. Huge double pike second pass, another controlled landing and she’s pumped about it! Didn’t quite hit the split position on the switch half, but overall a great routine! 9.600? Must have been a start value issue?

Hutchinson (Denver): Front toss connected to bhs no problem, nicely done switch leap split jump. Good front toss and perfect full turn, stays on her toe. Cartwheel gainer full off the side, stuck landing. Denver’s back on track! 9.950!

Diab (ISU): Front double twist punch front layout, bends the knees on the layout but lands well. Slightly short of positions in the leap series. Front full front layout into a stag leap, well-controlled. Finishes with a Rudi punch loso, well done. 9.775

Mundell (Denver): Slightly off on the bhs loso series but just a small wobble. Short of position in the switch half but nails the split leap. Small wobble on the side aerial. Sticks the roundoff one and a half dismount! 9.925

Loyim (ISU): Double layout to open, a bit short and takes a step forward. Great form on the one and a half to front layout, slight shuffle on landing. Finishes with a big double back, over rotates this one and steps oob. 9.750

Sundstrom (Denver, exhibition): Nice full turn to start. Great bhs loso series. Wobble on the side aerial. Switch leap with a small connection break and a wobble, switch half and adds another split leap to get her start value. Good dismount! 9.750 I believe.

Alondra Maldonado (ISU, exhibition): Good front layout punch Rudi to start! Strong double pike as well. Another good routine capable of breaking into the Iowa State lineup.

Rotation 3 Scores: Denver 49.425, Iowa State 48.700

AFTER THREE: Denver 147.925, Iowa State 146.950

Denver more than survives the beam after a fall from the typically dependable Ruiz, on track for an excellent score after three rotations. Hutchinson’s routine was beautiful – the Pioneers should be thrilled to have her back on all four events. Iowa State had some landing trouble on floor and had to settle for a bit lower numbers from its top performers. Still, the Cyclones aren’t out of this one, and with a strong beam performance, could still cross that 196 mark.

Rotation 4: Iowa State BB, Denver FX

Loyim (ISU): Nice switch leap switch leap to start. Tiny wobble on the bhs loso and a solid full turn. Front aerial into a beat jump, no problem. Finishes with a roundoff one and a half, just a small hop forward. Good first routine! 9.750

Ruiz (Denver): Front through to double back, nails the landing. Slightly short of the straddle positions on the leap pass. Over rotates the double pike and the front foot slides back, but shouldn’t be a big deduction. Good redemption for her! 9.800

Steinmeyer (ISU): Front toss into beat jump, no wobbles. Bhs loso with a small wobble, bent knees in the air. Nice landing on the switch leap straddle quarter. Finishes with nearly stuck roundoff one and a half twist! 9.775

E. Brown (Denver): Opens with a two and a half twist, well controlled. Great form on the one and a half to front layout. Nearly sticks the Rudi to finish! Great routine! 9.800

Palacios (ISU): Crooked on the side aerial bhs series and falls off. Recovers with a full turn. Nice position on the leaps but a wobble on the straddle three quarters. Side aerial gainer full off the end, sticks. They’ll want to drop that one. 8.975

Glynn (Denver): Front through to double back, too much power and the front foot slides back slightly. No problem on the leap pass. Big double pike to finish, chest slightly down on landing and the front foot slides back a tiny bit again. 9.825

Basuel (ISU): Switch leap to switch half, no trouble. Bend at the hips in bhs loso but fights to minimize it. Finishes with a side aerial layout full off the end, feet don’t move but she’s crooked and leans to save the landing. 9.850

Mabanta (Denver): Opens with a one and a half to front layout, great control. Doesn’t quite release the head on the switch ring half but hits the split position. A bit low on the punch front punch Rudi and lands with the chest down, takes a step forward. 9.575

Boychuk (ISU): Switch leap to split jump to start, no wobble. Solid bhs loso series and full turn. Big wobble on the front toss, leg leaves the beam and there’s a bend at the hips. Finishes with gainer full off the side and sticks.

Hutchinson (Denver): Great height and control on the front double twist to start! One and a half to front layout, doesn’t have to take the lunge but does. Excellent leap pass. Finishes with a Rudi punch straddle jump to finish. That should be a big number to finish an excellent day for her! 9.925

Semple (ISU): Balance check on the bhs loso series, nice full turn. Good switch half to beat jump and switch leap to split jump. Finishes with a side aerial to full twist and hits the landing! Strong beam rotation for the Cyclones!

Casali (Denver): Huge double pike to start! A bit watered down from her typical first pass. Lack of height on the second leap. Sits down the two and a half punch front. Just not enough rotation unfortunately. 9.050

Alondra Maldonado (ISU, exhibition): Solid bhs loso series and side aerial. Not quite hitting positions in the leap but no landing deductions. Finishes with a gainer full off the side with a small hop back. Great exhibition routine!

Rotation 4 Scores: Iowa State 48.825, Denver 48.925

FINAL RESULTS: Denver 196.850, Iowa State 195.775

Not the final rotation Denver probably wanted, but nothing catastrophic, and the Pioneers take this one with a nice score at home. Iowa State had a scare early in the beam lineup but recovered well to notch its second highest score of the season. The Cyclones should be pleased with their performances today, especially considering the Big 12 Championship meet will be in this same arena in about a month. Definitely room for improvement, but the outlook is positive for this team.

Event Winners

VT: Maxwell (ISU) 9.900

UB: Mundell (Denver) 9.925

BB: Hutchinson (Denver) 9.950

FX: Hutchinson (Denver) 9.925

AA: Hutchinson (Denver) 39.625

Ryan’s Stories of the Night

Jessica. Hutchinson. After a slow start to the season because of COVID-19 protocols, the sophomore sensation is quickly making a name for herself as an all around star for Denver. In just her second meet back on all four, she breaks her career high by .125, not an easy feat. Hutchinson was fabulous on every event today, and possesses that all-important quality of making gymnastics look easy. With Brown out for the season, her continued success will be crucial to replacing some of those huge scores. Denver did its job and looks less shaky than last week, still the easy choice for second in the Big 12. Iowa State is definitely improving after some January struggles, but based on its potential, there’s still a long way to go. Can the Cyclones put it all together when it counts and gain a few more quality scores to make a regionals run?

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Live blog by Ryan Wichtendahl

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