DENVER - The No. 20 University of Denver women's gymnastics squad combined for a 196.400 in the University's inaugural Western Athletic Conference competition, a dual meet with Sacramento State on Saturday in Hamilton Gymnasium. With the new season-best, Denver improved its Regional Qualifying Score to 195.270. The Hornets posted a 193.750.
Highlighting the night, senior Louise Mercer (Nottingham, England) inked her name into the DU history books, tying 2009 DU graduate and Venezuelan Olympian Jessica Lopez for the third-best Bars score in school history (9.975).
"It's great to see the work the girls put into practice come out into competition," head coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart said. "Every single day they are focusing on character, excellence and teamwork, and are putting in the little things every day that make a difference when you come into a competition."
Sophomore Moriah Martin (Lake Mary, Fla.) won the All-Around competition with a career-high 39.425.
The Pioneers began the meet with a season-high 49.175 on Vault, elevating the nation's 16th best Vault corps to an average of 49.000. For the seventh time in eight meets, Martin led the Pioneers on Vault, this time posting a 9.900. The performance was her fourth-consecutive 9.900 or better, and her fifth of the season. After matching her career-high of 9.800 four times this season, sophomore Kaitlin Moorhead (Palo Alto, Calif.) broke out for a 9.850 on the apparatus. Sophomore Melodie Pulgarin Linero (Barcelona, Spain) tallied a 9.825 and junior Simona Castro (Santiago, Chile) and Mercer added matching scores of 9.800. Martin won her fourth Vault title of the season.
Mercer brought the crowd of 1,285 to its feet with her career-high 9.975 performance on Bars to lead the Pioneers in the second rotation. Saturday was Mercer's third Bars title of the season. Martin added a career-high 9.875 to lead off the Pioneers' Bars corps. Castro (9.800) and Tollefson (9.700) also posted career-highs in the second rotation. Denver recorded a season-high 49.250 on Bars, and took a 98.425-97.275 lead into the third rotation.
"We had a great meet as a team," Mercer said. "We worked really hard in the gym this week, and it is really starting to pay off. I'm really excited to see what the rest of the season has in store for us."
Freshman Ellese Sakai-Hart (Aptos, Calif.) tallied a season-high 9.800 in her seventh-career Beam performance. Pulgarin Linero won her first Beam title of the season with a 9.825 to lead the Pioneers to a score of 48.725 on the event.
In the fourth and final rotation, the Pioneers, who came in ranked No. 16 in the country on Floor (48.921), posted a 49.250 to close out the meet. Martin set another career-high with a score of 9.990 on her way to her first Floor title of the season. Sophomore Jorie Hall (Denver, Colo.) tied her career-best with a 9.875.
Pulgarin Linero finished second in the All-Around with a 39.250.
The Pioneers will host Western Michigan, Missouri and West Virginia in DU's first quad meet of the season, next Saturday in Hamilton Gymnasium at 6 p.m. MT.