DENVER - The No. 17 University of Denver gymnastics squad posted a 196.200 in its quad-meet on Saturday evening in Magness Arena. No. 19 Minnesota finished first with a 196.225, and the Pioneers placed second ahead of Iowa (194.500) and No. 25 Arizona State (194.225). The Pioneers improved their Regional Qualifying Score to 195.865.
"It was a great competition," head coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart said. "It had a real postseason feel to it. There were four great teams here tonight, and I thought that everyone competed with a lot of enthusiasm."
Sophomores Moriah Martin (Lake Mary, Fla.) and Melodie Pulgarin Linero (Barcelona, Spain) finished first and second in the All-Around with scores of 39.450 and 39.425, respectively. Freshman Ellese Sakai-Hart (Aptos, Calif.) finished the first All-Around effort of her career with a 39.150.
Martin led the Pioneers with a 9.900 on Vault to anchor the first rotation, her seventh-consecutive score of 9.900 or higher. Reigning Verizon Western Athletic Conference Event Specialist of the Week, Kaitlin Moorhead (Palo Alto, Calif.) and Pulgarin Linero added matching scores of 9.825. Sakai-Hart also charted a career-high 9.800, and DU finished the first rotation with a 49.100 to take a slim 0.025 lead over Minnesota into the second rotation.
Pulgarin Linero and Martin led DU in the second act on Bars, each setting career-highs with scores of 9.900. Senior Louise Mercer (Nottingham, England), who was honored after the meet, added a 9.875. DU combined for a 49.125 and the national rankings held through the second rotation, as Denver took a 0.300 lead over the Golden Gophers at the halfway mark.
The Pioneers posted a 48.775 on Beam in the third rotation, led by sophomore Jorie Hall (Denver, Colo.) who notched a 9.875. Pulgarin Linero added a 9.825, and Denver headed into the final rotation just 0.050 points ahead of Minnesota.
DU saved the best for last, led once again by Pulgarin Linero and Martin on Floor, who each charted scores of 9.875. Moorhead and Sakai-Hart added scores of 9.825, tying a career-high for Sakai-Hart. Denver finished with a 49.200, but the Golden Gophers inked a 49.275 on Vault in the final rotation to squeak out a 196.225-196.200 victory over the Pioneers.
Denver has now lost by 0.1 points or less three times this season (at Missouri on Jan. 20 and against West Virginia on March 3).
The Pioneers will compete in the Western Athletic Conference Championships next Saturday in Logan, Utah, at 6 p.m. at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on the campus of Utah State University.
"We are very excited to be a part of this great competition," Kutcher-Rinehart said. "There are strong teams, and I think it's going to help prepare us for Regionals."
Tickets for next Saturday's WAC Championships can be purchased by calling the Utah State University Ticket Office at (435) 797-0305, or on the Aggies website.