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EUGENE, Ore. -- A 12-point improvement from Azusa Pacific’s season-opening acrobatics & tumbling win over Baylor just two weeks ago helped lift the Cougars to a split of Friday’s triangular meet against Quinnipiac and Oregon in front of 1,953 at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene.
The Cougars, who scored 269.39 points against Baylor, posted nearly six points worth of improvement in the team routine alone to finish Friday’s meet with a total score of 281.22. That was enough for a six-point win over Quinnipiac, which fell to 0-3 on the year with its 275.13 team score, although Azusa Pacific finished about four points shy of knocking off defending National Collegiate Acrobatics & Tumbling Association (NCATA) national champion Oregon, which posted a 285.44 to collect two wins to open its title defense.
“Overall I was happy with the whole meet, because everyone performed better than the first meet,” Cougar head coach Colleen Kausrud said. “The scores were reflective of that, our tumbling was a lot stronger, and our team routine was much better than the Baylor meet. We came really close to beating Oregon in the team routine, and that was very encouraging.”
Azusa Pacific posted the top score in the second of six events that comprise the meet, edging Oregon in the acro event by a margin of just five-hundredths of a point (28.20 to 28.15). Quinnipiac fell a few points back with a 25.98 acro score and never recovered, finishing with the lowest score in four of the meet’s six events.
The Cougars also showed improvement from the season-opening meet in all six events of the competition, including a markup of nearly two full points in the six-heat tumbling event. Tumbling represents 60 of the possible 300 points in the meet, and it is the last event before the 110-point team routine that closes the meet. Azusa Pacific’s biggest tumbling improvement came in the six-element pass heat, in which Melanie Aberin registered 9.88 of a possible 10 points.
Oregon led the opening event (compulsory) and the third event (pyramid), giving the Ducks a halftime score of 96.70 for a 1.75-point lead over Azusa Pacific and a 3.47-point margin over Quinnipiac. Oregon and Quinnipiac tied for the best score in the fourth event (toss), both notching scores of 28.45 to the Cougars’ 28.15.
“We still need to work on getting our tosses cleaned up, and I think we can work on getting our acro start values a little higher,” Kausrud said.
Azusa Pacific entered the final event of the meet (team routine) trailing Oregon by 4.02 points, and the Cougars’ starting difficulty value (SDV) for the event was nearly three points lower than the Ducks. Still, Azusa Pacific executed for a 102.03 score out of 106.78 possible points, falling back only two-tenths of a point to Oregon, which was awarded a score of 102.23 of a possible 109.43 points in starting difficulty value.
“Last year we lost to Oregon here by 12 points, so to cut that to less than 5 points is a great step in the right direction,” Kausrud said. “Overall, we had a much stronger performance, and I really think we can compete with Oregon. Last year, I felt like it was next to impossible to beat them, but I don’t feel that way this year. I don’t feel anybody we’ve seen is untouchable.”
With the win over Quinnipiac and the loss to Oregon, Azusa Pacific now has a 2-1 record heading into its next competition, which is a March 30 visit to Maryland for another triangular meet with Maryland and Fairmont State. With that trip, which included a dual-meet visit to Quinnipiac on April 2, the Cougars will have faced all of the other current NCATA members.
Azusa Pacific wraps up the regular season at home with an April 17 dual meet against Oregon, just over a week prior to the NCATA National Championship meet in Waco, Texas.
“I think home-floor advantage is huge, because it builds confidence to have the crowd behind you when you’re performing,” Kausrud said. “I know it’s going to make a huge difference for us to have a huge crowd for the Oregon meet.”
The NCATA has six member schools for the 2012 season, with three more programs committing to join the association in 2013.