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DU gymnastics team continues its hot start, vaults to No. 7 in national rankings

DENVER -- It’s one of the best starts to a season ever for the University of Denver gymnastics team. The Pioneers are ranked No. 7 in the country, the third-highest ranking in program history.

"We have worked so incredibly hard all preseason," says senior team captain Claire Kern. "To just get out there and do our thing and be so calm, cool and collected -- honestly, I couldn't be more proud of our entire team."

The Pioneers won their season opener on Jan. 11, upsetting No. 6 Michigan and No. 18 Alabama. They followed that up with a win in their first home meet, beating No. 22 Central Michigan (193.250), Texas Woman's (190.200) and Sacramento State (190.150).

"We talk about goal setting and making it just a little bit of a reach, but not too high," sophomore Lynnzee Brown says. "I think we set perfect goals for this meet and accomplished them."

The Pioneers are no strangers to success, but 2019 has the potential to be the gold standard.

"We do have our philosophy, but to be building this year's specific vision and mission, I know the athletes' theme for this season is 'locked in,'" explains head coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart.

"We are all so committed and dedicated to what we're doing inside of the gym and outside of the gym," Kern says. "I think that's one of the biggest differences from this team to others that I've been on."

In a sport of inches, where the slightest movement can be the difference between winning and losing, this DU gymnastics team is working to find the perfect balance.

"I think they have a calm confidence about them," says Kutcher-Rinehart. "They have great chemistry, a great work ethic and of course they're striving for excellence."

"We're super excited and honored to be where we are so early in the season," adds Brown. "And we intend to stay up there."

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