DENVER - The No. 20 University of Denver gymnastics squad combined for a 196.600 to top Air Force (191.025) on Saturday night at Hamilton Gymnasium. Denver's two-meet average is 195.650, the second-best start in program history, behind only the 2003 squad's average of 196.450 through the season's first two weekends.
"I thought that we did a great job tonight. It was certainly an improvement from last weekend," head coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart said. "I really think that this is what this team is capable of doing. A lot of different individuals stepped up. The hard work from this week, and our depth really paid off tonight."
Denver improved on all four of its event scores Saturday night, compared to last week's opener, including a 0.725 improvement on floor.
Freshman Emily Barrett (Norman, Okla.) got the night started with a 9.825 on vault in her second collegiate meet. For the second week in a row, junior Kaitlin Moorhead (Palo Alto, Calif.) led the Pioneers on vault with a 9.850. Senior Brianna Springer (Arvada, Colo.) and junior Melodie Pulgarin Linero (Barcelona, Spain) added matching 9.800s, and freshman Maggie Laughlin (Scottsdale, Ariz.) rounded out the counting scores on vault for the Pioneers with a 9.750. Denver ended the first rotation with a 49.025.
Denver took the momentum from vault to bars, recording a 49.275 on the event. Reigning WAC Gymnast of the Week Moriah Martin (Lake Mary, Fla.) followed a pair of 9.850s from Laughlin and Pulgarin Linero with a career-high 9.925 to lead Denver in its second rotation. WAC Event Specialist of the Week Nina McGee (Cincinnati, Ohio) inked a 9.875, and Springer added a 9.775 to cap off the counting scores.
Junior Jorie Hall (Denver, Colo.) and Pulgarin Linero led Denver's third rotation with 9.850s. Pulgarin Linero's score tied a career high, and she finished her evening with a 9.800 or higher on all three events. Sophomore Ellese Sakai-Hart (Aptos, Calif.) tallied a 9.775 in the leadoff spot, and Denver finished the third rotation with a 48.900.
"That's a really great score for a second meet," Pulgarin Linero said of the 196.600. "This meet was really good for our confidence. Away meets are always more difficult because you don't have your home fans, and the equipment is different, but I think tonight's meet will give us a lot of confidence as we head to Oklahoma next week."
After a 9.825 on floor to open her Pioneer career last week, McGee's floor routine impressed the judges even more on Saturday night, as the Pioneer sophomore inked a 9.950 to lead Denver in its final rotation. Moorhead and Martin added a pair of 9.900s and Hall finished her night with a 9.875. DU combined for a 49.400 on the event to cap off its highest meet score in the opening two weeks in program history.
"I was really excited when I found out what our score was," Martin said of the team's 196.600. "I think it showed how much potential this team has, and I'm looking forward to seeing what we are able to accomplish next week."
Denver won all five individual titles on Saturday night, including Laughlin's all-around title (38.975). In all, the Pioneers had six performances that tied or broke personal bests.
The Crimson and Gold will hit the road for the first time in 2013 next week, as Denver travels to No. 4 Oklahoma next Friday for a 6 p.m. MT meet.
-EXPERIENCE DENVER ATHLETICS-
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