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DU Gymnastics Advances to NCAA National Championships

April 1, 2017

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The No. 9-ranked University of Denver women’s gymnastics has advanced to the NCAA National Championships following a 197.050 performance at NCAA Regionals on Saturday.

This is the first time since 2008—and fourth time overall—that the Pioneers have qualified as a team to the national championship. It also continues a streak of 18 straight seasons that at least one Pioneer has advanced.

In addition to the team finish, three Pioneers won a share of event titles: senior Rachel Fielitz (Walden, N.Y.) on vault, sophomore Diana Chesnok (Charlotte, N.C.) on bars and freshman Maddie Karr (Stillwater, Minn.) on beam.

“We are thrilled to be representing the University of Denver at the NCAA National Championships,” head coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart said. “It was a complete team performance. Our student-athletes showed tremendous heart and perseverance, and it was a gritty and mentally tough performance.

“It was an incredibly competitive meet. The caliber of gymnastics from all the teams here tonight—that’s what makes this so much more rewarding.”

The Pioneers opened the meet on vault, scoring a 49.225 as a team, led by a meet-high 9.900 from Fielitz. Karr added a 9.875 while senior Julia Ross (Henderson, Nev.) and junior Nikole Addison (Fort Myers, Fla.) posted matching 9.850s. Sophomore Kaitlyn Schou (Orlando, Fla.) capped off DU’s counted scores with a 9.750.

DU added a 49.350 on bars with all six scores going above 9.800, which ties the sixth-highest score in program history. Chesnok tied her career high with a 9.925 to lead the team and tie for the best bars score of the night. Freshman Sam Ogden (Allen, Texas) had a 9.825 while sophomore Claire Kern (Charlotte, N.C.), senior Leah Lomonte (Katy, Texas) and Karr all posted 9.850s. Ross had the team’s second-highest score with a 9.875.

Denver moved to beam in the third rotation, posting a team total of 49.225—the highest team score of the meet—led by Karr’s 9.900 that matched the best score of the meet on the event. Freshman Courtney Loper (West Des Moines, Iowa) tied her career high with a 9.875 to have the team’s next-best mark. Schou posted a 9.850, and Ross earned a 9.825. Ogden had the team’s final counted score with a 9.775.

DU clinched its NCAA Nationals team berth on floor, posting a 49.250, which is the fourth-best score this season on the event. Addison’s 9.900 was the team’s highest mark and tied for second overall. Karr earned a 9.875 while Schou and junior Claire Hammen (Loveland, Colo.) both scored 9.850. Loper and Ross also tallied matching scores of 9.775.

DU finished second overall, just one tenth behind No. 4 Utah (197.150). Host Arkansas and No. 21 Auburn tied for third (196.600); No. 16 California took fifth (196.300); and Central Michigan finished in sixth (195.675).

In the all-around, Karr finished second with a 39.500, and Ross was fourth with a 39.325.

“We want to thank our university, our athletic department and leadership, and our family, friends and alumni who have continued to build the tradition of DU Gymnastics,” Kutcher-Rinehart added after the meet.

Denver will compete at the NCAA National Championship in St. Louis, Mo., on April 14-15. The Pioneers will compete in Semifinal I on April 14 for a spot in the Super Six on April 15.

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