DENVER - Junior Moriah Martin (Lake Mary, Fla.) combined for a 39.500 in the all-around, including a 10.0 on vault to lead the No. 13 University of Denver gymnastics squad to a final score of 196.400 before a sold-out crowd of 2,119 on Saturday at Hamilton Gymnasium. Michigan State finished second with a score of 193.450.
"I think overall the team did a really good job tonight," head coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart said. "We were still a little bit fatigued with finals this week, and with only two days in the gym training in the last nine days, I think the girls did a good job. We were also without Brianna Springer tonight, who was out with the stomach flu, so I thought the girls did a really nice job tonight, battling through that adversity."
Martin anchored and led the vault rotation with the program's fifth perfect 10.0 vault. Junior Kaitlin Moorhead (Palo Alto, Calif.) set a career-high of her own on the apparatus with a 9.950. Sophomore Ellese Sakai-Hart (Aptos, Calif.) added a 9.850 and freshman Emily Barrett (Norman, Okla.) turned in her fifth vault score of 9.800 or higher this season. For the second meet in a row, Denver combined for a 49.325 on vault.
"I was really excited and a bit overwhelmed after I saw the score," Martin said. "Kaitlin did a great job of setting me up with a 9.950, and I was able to just continue that momentum."
For the first time since the 2013 opener, the Pioneers had to count a fall on bars, and were limited to a 48.625. Martin continued her evening with a 9.875 and sophomore Nina McGee (Cincinnati, Ohio) started her night off with her fifth 9.900 or higher on bars this season.
The Pioneers quickly turned the momentum back around with a season-high 49.275 on beam, the program's fifth-best output on the apparatus in program history. Junior Jorie Hall (Denver, Colo.) led the Pioneers with a 9.925, followed by 9.850s from McGee, Martin and senior Simona Castro (Santiago, Chile). Sakai-Hart rounded out the counting scores with a 9.800.
McGee posted her second 9.900 of the evening in the final rotation and the Pioneers closed out the night with a 49.175 on floor. Hall and Moorhead added matching scores of 9.875, and Denver sealed the senior night victory with a final score of 196.400.
Martin's all-around score tied her career-high for the second-consecutive meet, following last week's performance at Air Force.
Denver was without redshirt-senior Brianna Springer (Arvada, Colo.) (illness). Junior Melodie Pulgarin Linero (Barcelona, Spain) competed a week earlier than expected, but was limited to an exhibition routine on bars.
"We are finally finishing finals and we'll finally be on our spring break," Kutcher-Rinehart said. "We're looking forward to getting in the gym the next couple days, and really fine tuning some of the details, so that we are ready to go for the postseason."
The Pioneers will head back to Southern Utah next weekend, as Denver looks to win its second-consecutive Western Athletic Conference Championship on Saturday at 6 p.m. MT.
-EXPERIENCE DENVER ATHLETICS-
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