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Countdown to Regionals: Eight Different Places They Call Home
Courtesy: Denver Athletics  
Release: 03/30/2012
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"Countdown to Regionals" is a series to mark each passing day with a different statistic, fact or talking point, setting the stage for the Pioneers trip to the 2012 NCAA Champaign Regional on April 7.

The 2012 University of Denver women's gymnastics squad may be from all different areas of the world, but the Pioneers have come together as a team at the right time of the season, eclipsing a team score of 196 in five of their last six meets heading into next Saturday's Champaign Regional (April 7, 3 p.m. MT).

The Pioneers come to the Mile High City from three different countries and five different states.

"Part of the University of Denver's philosophy incorporates studying abroad," head coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart said. "Since there are several departments on campus that can't make studying abroad work with our athletes (due to scheduling), we have been fortunate enough to participate in the international experience by bringing students from other countries to Denver."

Senior Louise Mercer is finishing up her fourth year of a productive gymnastics career and quality college education in the United States. The senior captain is a bit over 4,600 miles from her hometown of Nottingham. Mercer's parents, who attended the last three meets, flew back to England after last Saturday's WAC Championship.

Junior Simona Castro will become the first female Chilean gymnast to represent her country in the Summer Olympics this July. Castro qualified for the 2012 London Games in-between the Georgia and Nebraska meet during the first two weeks of the season. Castro is a hair shy 5,500 miles from her hometown. Mercer and Castro's hometowns are the two farthest from each other. The distance is nearly 7,300 miles from Nottingham to Santiago.

Sophomore Melodie Pulgarin Linero and Castro can often be heard on road trips speaking Spanish. The Barcelona, Spain, native is a little over 5,200 miles from her hometown. A four-time Spanish National Champion, Pulgarin Linero was part of the Spanish national team that finished in eighth place at the 2006 World Championships.

"Bringing international students to DU has been a great experience for both our student-athletes and our coaching staff," Kutcher-Rinehart said. "To be able to experience the differences culturally, intellectually and athletically has been a great benefit to our program."

Freshmen Alix Angelopulo and Ellese Sakai-Hart and sophomore Kaitlin Moorhead make up the California trio that competes for DU. Freshman Kayla Carlsen returned to her home state of Georgia to open up the campaign, while sophomore Moriah Martin comes to Colorado from the Sunshine State and freshman Nina McGee is an Ohioan.

Sophomore Jorie Hall stayed in her hometown for her collegiate career to compete at DU along with stateswomen Brianna Springer, Paige Tollefson and Emily Warfield.

Previous segments:

10th Place Finish at Nationals for the 2007 Squad

Nine Gymnasts, One Title

Check back tomorrow for the fourth segment of the series. 



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