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No. 7 DU Ready for NCAA National Championship

April 11, 2017

DENVER – The No. 7-seeded University of Denver women’s gymnastics team is set for the 2017 NCAA National Championship in St. Louis. The Pioneers will compete in the first of two semifinals, beginning at 11 a.m. MT on Friday, April 14.

Joining Denver in Semifinal I will be No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 4 Utah, No. 6 UCLA, No. 11 Washington and No. 12 Oregon State. The second semifinal will include No. 2 LSU, No. 3 Florida, No. 5 Michigan, No. 8 Alabama, No. 9 Georgia and No. 10 Nebraska.

MEET #15: No. 7 Denver (22-7, 2-3 Big 12) at NCAA National Championship – Semifinal I

Date and Time: Friday, April 14, at 11 a.m. MT
Location: Chaifetz Arena/10,600 (St. Louis)
Tickets: Buy Tickets
TV: ESPN2
Live Stream: ESPN2 stream | Vault | Bars | Beam | Floor
Live Stats: NCAA live stats
Meet Info: DU meet notes
Facebook: /DenverGymnastics | /DenverPioneers
Twitter: @DU_Gymnastics | @DU_Pioneers
Instagram: @DU_Gymnastics | @DenverPioneers

MEET OVERVIEW
This is Denver’s fourth team appearance at the NCAA National Championship and first since 2008. DU also advanced in 2001 and 2007. This year’s team appearance continues the streak of 18 consecutive seasons in which at least one DU gymnast has qualified to nationals.

Ordered by seeding with National Qualifying Score (NQS), Semifinal I will feature:

(1) Oklahoma – 396.085 NQS
(4) Utah – 395.315 NQS
(6) UCLA -  394.300 NQS
(7) Denver – 394.090 NQS
(11) Washington – 393.285 NQS
(12) Oregon State – 393.265 NQS

Denver will begin the meet on beam in the first rotation and will finish on bars in the final rotation.

REGIONAL RECOGNITION
The Pioneers continue to earn end-of-season awards for their record-breaking season. Head coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart was named the North Central Regional Head Coach of the Year, adding to her Big 12 co-Coach of the Year honor this season. Freshman Maddie Karr (Stillwater, Minn.) also earned Gymnast of the Year honors from the North Central Region.

ALL-AMERICAN STATUS
Two Pioneers earned regular season All-American honors from the coaches’ association after holding final rankings inside the top 16 on individual events. Karr and senior Julia Ross (Henderson, Nev.) both earned second team recognition in the all-around. Karr added a first team nod on vault while Ross was named second team on beam.

RECORD-BREAKING REGULAR SEASON
Numerous program records have fallen during the Pioneers’ 2017 season, including the team’s highest-ever RQS (197.040). Denver held a top-10 national ranking for nine weeks during the regular season, shattering the previous record of three weeks in 2003.

Four of the top 10 scores in program history were set this season, including the sixth-highest score (197.150), achieved in three separate meets. DU also set the ninth-best mark (197.125).

Denver set a new school record for team bars score (49.450) on the road on March 10 while also tying the second-highest (49.400), sixth-highest (49.350) and eighth-highest (49.325) on the event. Additionally, the team set the third-highest (49.400) and tied the seventh-highest (49.300) beam scores, each on multiple occasions.

The team’s 2017 accomplishments come despite only competing with five student-athletes on both vault and floor for the majority of the season.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Vault: Karr, a first team All-American on vault, leads DU on the event with a perfect 10.0 and seven event titles this season. Her season average of 9.895 leads the Pioneers with Ross in second and junior Nikole Addison (Fort Myers, Fla.) in third. Senior Rachel Fielitz (Walden, N.Y.) won a share of the vault title at the Fayetteville Regional with a 9.900.

Bars: Sophomore Diana Chesnok (Charlotte, N.C.), who has DU’s highest bars average this season, tied her career high of 9.925 at NCAA Regionals to win a share of the event title, bringing her total to four this season. Ross is not far behind her in season average and owns two titles while freshman Sam Ogden (Allen, Texas) has the team’s best RQS and six titles.

Beam: Second team All-American Ross leads the Pioneers with a season average on beam of 9.864 and a team-leading five event titles in 2017. Sophomore Kaitlyn Schou (Orlando, Fla.) is next up with a 9.857 average. Karr, who earned a share of the beam title at regionals, has the third-best season average and also owns five titles.

Floor: Addison, who has the team’s best floor average and RQS this year, tied for second on the event at NCAA Regionals and has won seven titles. Karr has three floor titles this season and placed seventh at regionals with the third-best score of the meet. Junior Claire Hammen (Loveland, Colo.) has completed DU’s floor line-up in the last two meets after returning from injury and posted scores of 9.800 or higher both times.

LAST TIME OUT
DU competed at the Fayetteville Regional, finishing second overall—and just one tenth out of first place—to secure the program’s fourth team berth to the NCAA National Championship. The Pioneers’ final team score of 197.050 shattered the record for DU’s highest score at NCAA Regionals (previously 196.175 in 2010). It was also the sixth-highest score across the nation at this year’s regionals.

In addition to the overall team score, DU also set new program records for scores at NCAA Regionals on bars (49.350) and beam (49.225). Denver’s vault score of 49.225 and floor score of 49.250 were the second- and third-best marks in program history at regionals, respectively.

Three Pioneers won shares of individual titles: Fielitz on vault, Chesnok on bars and Karr on beam. Karr also finished second in the all-around—only .025 out of the top spot—and Ross placed fourth. Other notable finishes include Karr tying for second on vault, Addison tying for second on floor, and freshman Courtney Loper (West Des Moines, Iowa) tying for fifth on beam with the second-best score on the event, a career-tying 9.875.

NATIONALS HISTORY
Denver advanced as a team to the NCAA National Championship three times previously. In 2001, DU became the first small private school in NCAA history to qualify and finished 12th overall. The Pioneers competed at nationals in back-to-back seasons in 2007 and 2008, finishing a program-best 10th overall in 2007 and 12th in 2008.

In every season since 2000, the Pioneers have advanced at least one student-athlete to the NCAA National Championship. A total of 14 DU gymnasts have qualified as individuals to nationals, including Nina McGee, who did so in 2015 and 2016. Last year, McGee won DU Gymnastics’ first-ever individual national title with a 9.950 performance on floor. She also tied for No. 10 overall in the all-around—the highest-ever finish in program history—and tied for No. 12 on bars.

THE MATCH-UPS
This will be the third meeting in 2017 between Denver and Oklahoma, the first coming in a regular-season quad meet at OU on February 3 and the second at the 2017 Big 12 Championship last month. In both meets, Oklahoma came out on top, and Denver finished second. DU and OU have never met at the NCAA National Championship.

This will also mark the third meeting between DU and Utah this season. Denver traveled to Salt Lake City for a quad meet on January 20 where Utah won and DU finished second. The teams also met at NCAA Regionals in April 1 in Fayetteville, Ark., where Denver finished second to Utah by only one tenth. Denver has competed against Utah in each of its three previous NCAA semifinals appearances.

DU and UCLA have not met since the 2011 season when UCLA hosted Denver in a tri-meet on February 27 where UCLA won and DU finished third. The teams last met in the postseason at 2009 NCAA Regionals at Iowa. In both 2007 and 2008, DU and UCLA competed in the same NCAA semifinal.

The Pioneers’ last meet against Washington was in Seattle on March 12, 2016, where UW finished first and Denver second out of three teams. Their last neutral-site and postseason meeting was the 2015 NCAA Regionals in Ames, Iowa, where DU topped UW. The teams have never met at the NCAA National Championship.

DU won its last meeting against Oregon State on March 10, 2012 in Denver. They last met at a neutral location on March 6, 2011, at California where OSU topped DU. This will be Denver and Oregon State’s first NCAA postseason meeting, whether at regionals or nationals.

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