Jan. 18, 2009


DENVERComing off its first victory over then-No. 11 Nebraska in 16 years, the No. 17 University of Denver gymnastics team defeated the No. 15 University of Minnesota 194.700-193.525 in the Winterfest Invitational meet in Hamilton Gymnasium before a sell-out crowd (1,132) on Saturday night.


“Relatively speaking, I really felt good about our performance tonight,” head coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart said. “We had athletes out sick all week, and the team, including those who were sick, really stepped up. There are still areas where we can take advantage of our opportunities, though. We haven’t put it all together yet.”


The Pioneers were led by senior All-American Jessica López (Caracas, Venezuela), who posted a first place 9.975 on beam. The score tied López for the second-best beam mark in DU history. The Gophers’ Ana Balboa was second with a 9.825, and freshman Brianna Springer (Arvada, Colo.) tied for third senior Nikki Brown (Louisville, Ky.) and Jamie Bullock and Carmelina Carabajal of Minnesota with a personal best 9.800.


Junior Kelley Hennigan (The Woodlands, Texas) placed first on vault with a personal best 9.875, while Minnesota’s Alexis Russell and Carabajal tied for second with scores of 9.800.


Sophomore Amanda Johanson (Park City, Utah) and Brown tied for first on bars at 9.850, a personal best for Johanson. Hennigan also recorded a personal best on bars, coming in tied for third with three Gophers at 9.825.


On floor exercise, Springer posted her first victory as a Pioneer with a personal best 9.825. Carabajal was second, while sophomore Kristina Coccia (Bethlehem, Pa.) took third with a 9.775, also a personal best.


Minnesota’s Carabajal won with all-around competition with a 39.150, followed by Springer’s personal-best 38.675 and Hennigan (38.575).


With the victory, Denver improved to 8-4 all-time against Minnesota.


Next weekend, the Pioneers take on Maryland and North Carolina State on the road in College Park, Md. The meet begins at 5 p.m. MT.