The No. 16 University of Minnesota women's gymnastics team fell to No. 14 Denver in the season opener, 195.875-194.725, on Saturday night at the Sports Pavilion.
"It was a good start for us," head coach Jenny Hansen said. "It wasn't as strong as we would have liked, but we've got a lot of new student-athletes in our lineups, and that's to be expected. I expect us to keep building each week."
As a team, Minnesota recorded scores of 49.050 on vault, 48.925 on uneven bars, 48.025 on beam and 49.200 on floor.
Freshman Paige Williams tied for second on vault with a 9.825 to lead Minnesota. Bailey Abernathy notched a 9.800 for fifth-place tie, while rookie Kristen Quaglia's 9.775 rounded out the Gophers' top-three finishers at seventh place.
Bailie Holst led the Gophers with a 9.825 on uneven bars for a silver finish. Rookie Ivy Lu made her debut with Minnesota's second-highest bars score, 9.775. Lu's score placed fifth overall. Hannah Hitchcock's 9.725 earned her seventh overall.
On balance beam, Ciara Gardner led the pace for Minnesota with a 9.825 for second place. Holst followed for third place with a score of 9.800, and her second top-three finish of the night. Senior Kaitlin Rahon rounded out Minnesota's top beam performances with a 9.775 for fifth.
Abernathy recorded a 9.900 on floor, a personal record, to be named co-event champion with Denver's Maddie Karr. Gardner's 9.875 earned her third place, while Holst finished fifth with a score of 9.825.
Holst finished second in the all-around competition with a total score of 39.175, a personal record. Gardner tied for third with a cumulative score of 39.150.
"The seniors really came through for us tonight and we're great leaders for us," Hansen added.
The Gophers will travel to College Park, Md. next week to face Maryland and Arizona on Saturday, Jan. 14. Competition is scheduled to begin at 3:00 p.m.
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Loper is a four-time Junior Olympic qualifier. At the 2017 Junior Olympic Championships she won the national championship on floor and finished fifth place in the all-around.
2017 By The Numbers
Take a look back at highlights from Minnesota Women's Gymnastics 2017 season by the numbers.
Incoming Gophers Win JO National Titles
Lexy Ramler (St. Michael, Minn.) and Ona Loper (Bluffton, S.C.) each won a national title at the 2017 Women's Junior Olympic National Championships.