DENVER - Junior Jorie Hall (Denver, Colo.) tallied a 9.875 on beam and a 9.900 on floor to lead the No. 13 University of Denver gymnastics squad to a Burnsley Invitational victory (196.050) on Saturday night at Hamilton Gymnasium. No. 24 North Carolina State finished second with a score of 194.925, San Jose State combined for a 193.425 to finish third and Air Force posted a 192.675 to round out the field.
"I thought that the team had a nice night tonight," head coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart said. "We went 28-for-28 tonight in hitting routines, including our four exhibition performers. I think we showed a lot of mental toughness going from bars to beam, and then finishing out the meet on floor. It was a great crowd tonight (1,520) and we're really appreciative of Porter Hospital and Joy Burns' contributions to this 'Pink Meet'."
Junior Melodie Pulgarin Linero (Barcelona, Spain) won the all-around title in her second appearance of the season, combining for a 39.125 on Saturday. Sophomore Nina McGee (Cincinnati, Ohio) also added three scores of 9.800 or higher.
To begin Denver's night, freshman Emily Barrett (Norman, Okla.) and senior Simona Castro (Santiago, Chile) turned in matching scores of 9.775 to get the Pioneers off on the right foot. Redshirt-senior Brianna Springer (Arvada, Colo.) followed that up with a 9.800, tying her season-high on the apparatus. The back-half of the vault lineup showed signs of last season, as the junior vault trio of Pulgarin Linero, Kaitlin Moorhead (Palo Alto, Calif.) and Moriah Martin (Lake Mary, Fla.) went 9.825, 9.900 and 9.925, respectively, to lead Denver's best rotation of the evening. Martin shared the vault title with N.C. State's Diahanna Ham. The Pioneers matched their season-high vault score with a 49.225.
McGee led the way for the Pioneers on bars on Saturday night, turning in a 9.825 in the fifth spot of the rotation. The score is McGee's fourth score over 9.800 in five bars performances this season. Martin added a 9.800, and the Pioneers tallied a 48.675 in the second rotation. The Wolf Pack's Rachel Fincham would go on to win the bars title with a 9.875. Despite N.C. State's 48.875 on floor, Denver carried a 0.350 lead into the second half of the meet.
Martin, a 2012 National qualifier, did not compete in the second half of the meet due to the heel injury she suffered on vault last week at Arkansas.
Hall had to wait until the third rotation to begin her night, but it was worth the wait, as the Pioneer junior recorded a 9.875 in the second spot of Denver's beam lineup. Springer added a 9.775, her season-high on beam, and Pulgarin Linero inked a 9.800. McGee, who's been Kutcher-Rinehart's go-to anchor on the rotation as of late, tied a season-high with a 9.875. Hall and McGee shared the beam title. Denver combined for a 49.050 on the event, its first 49.000 on beam since March 10, 2012.
Sophomore Ellese Sakai-Hart (Aptos, Calif.) started Denver's fourth rotation strong with a career-high 9.850. Hall completed her solid evening with a career-high of her own, a 9.900 in the third spot of the Pioneer floor lineup to win the meet's floor title. McGee and Pulgarin Linero closed Denver's evening with matching 9.800s to wrap-up the Pioneers second score over 196.000 this season.
"We still have a lot of room for improvement," Kutcher-Rinehart said. "This team is capable of scoring in the 197s. Coming into the meet we wanted to go over 49.000 on at least two events, and we did that on three events tonight. We have to get back in the gym and really focus on our landings this week, I felt like that's where we took some of our deductions tonight."
Denver, who moved to 1-0 in the Western Athletic Conference with its victory over SJSU, will return to the road for the next two weeks, beginning with DU's first of two trips to Cedar City, Utah. The Pioneers will take on Southern Utah in a WAC dual meet on Friday at 7 p.m. MT. The Crimson and Gold will return to Southern Utah at the end of March for the WAC Championships.
-EXPERIENCE DENVER ATHLETICS-
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