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Two Pioneer gymnasts qualify for NCAA national championships

Junior Brianna Springer qualified for the NCAA national championships over the weekend. Springer will compete in the all-around portion of the event. Photo: Rich Clarkson & Associates

Freshman Jorie Hall claimed a share of the balance beam title and joined junior Brianna Springer to qualify for the NCAA national championships at the 2011 NCAA North Central Regional Championships at DU’s Magness Arena on April 2.

Hall tied with Bekah Gher from Boise State University on the balance beam, scoring a career-best 9.900 to punch her first ticket to nationals. Springer finished with a 39.250 as the second all-around competitor not on a qualifying team. Springer will be making her second appearance as an individual at nationals.

“I am so proud of Jorie and Brianna. They have worked so hard to get to this point and tonight it really paid off,” head coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart said. “Of course it is disappointing not to be going to nationals as a team, but we performed well tonight and I am so proud of this team.”

Hall and Springer will travel to Cleveland April 22–24 for nationals.

No. 12 Arkansas upset No. 1 Florida and took the regional title with a score of 196.550. The Gators posted a 196.425. Both teams advance to the national championships.

Boise State finished third at 196.400 while DU recorded a 195.625 to finish fourth.

The Pioneers opened the competition on the uneven bars, putting together five good performances, including a 9.850 from Springer. The Pioneers were fourth after the first rotation, posting a 48.725. Denver moved to the balance beam for its second rotation, scoring a 48.950. Hall posted a score of 9.900 — Denver’s best — and the Pioneers remained in fourth place after two full rotations.

Springer, freshman Kaitlin Moorhead and senior Kristina Coccia all recorded scores of 9.850 in the floor exercise and helped Denver post a 49.125 score. Denver finished the night on the vault with freshman Moriah Martin scoring a 9.825 to lead the Pioneers. Denver finished with a 48.825 in the event.

“We are starting to get this program to where we want it. We are a young group and I am really proud of the way everyone stepped up tonight,” Kutcher-Rinehart said.

Denver will return 10 of its 14 student-athletes for the 2011–12 season. Saturday’s meet marked the final competition for seniors Coccia, Taylor Sanford, Annamari Maaranen and Amanda Johanson.

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