Daytona Beach, Florida – The Stunts and Tumbling team put an exclamation point on their historic season by winning their first national championship. In the largest division at the championships, the Cougars saved the best for last. With a powerful and clean routine, they topped the defending national champions and winner of three of the past four championships, U Mass-Dartmouth by .15. But the road wasn’t easy.
In the preliminaries, APU made uncharacteristic mistakes and had arguably their worst performance of the season. With mandatory deductions from mistakes and falls totally .45, the Cougars were left sitting in fourth place. Head Coach Colleen Kausrud and her coaching team made some strategic changes in the routine to ensure those same errors wouldn’t be duplicated.
“We know our team. We trust our team. The changes were simply a way of making slight alterations to match our skills to what the judges wanted to see. There aren’t many teams around the country that could embrace that the way our team did.”
And did they ever. When asked about the prelims performance and the changes which were made, Sanja Stark, Stunts & Tumbling team junior said “We remained confident, but not comfortable.”
With a mental sharpness, and physical superiority, they took the mat in finals and hit a clean routine. As they completed each skill the team’s confidence grew, the crowd got louder, and the coaches’ reactions couldn’t be missed.
“I saw heart, strength, and power that no other team has given in their performance” said Skills Coach Jonathan Smiley.
Added Assistant Coach Kristen Curry, “At that moment, it wasn’t about the judges. It was about remembering how hard they worked to get to that point. They did what they came out to do.”
The routine completed with no mistakes, and with the team knowing they had the performance of a lifetime on the biggest stage.
One word summed up the emotions for Stark: “Ecstatic.”
However, as the teams compete in reverse order from prelims, the top three teams still had to compete. After mistakes from Bridgewater State College (MA) and Framingham State (NY), the top team from prelims and defending champion U Mass Dartmouth (MA) hit a flawless routine. However, it simply wasn’t enough to overcome the Cougars.
“We’re national champions because we dethroned UMass at their very best. They’re a great program, but we are national champions” said Kausrud.
APU returns to California on Sunday and will be hosting the Stunts & Tumbling Cougar Showcase on Friday, April 16th at 7PM in the Felix Event Center as part of their celebration. Admission is free, and the event is open to all.
1 Azusa Pacific University 8.932
2 University of Massachusetts Dartmouth 8.780
3 Bridgewater State College 8.684
4 Montclair State University 8.645
5 Lindenwood University 8.570
6 Elmira College 8.493
7 Framingham State College 8.407
8 Endicott College 8.177
9 Curry College 8.009
10 California Baptist University 7.923