AZUSA, Calif. -- Fueled by an enthusiastic crowd of 1,500-plus, Azusa Pacific’s acrobatics & tumbling team opened the 2013 season with a four-point loss to the defending NCATA national champions from the University of Oregon Thursday night in the Felix Event Center. Oregon scored 276.79 points of a possible 300 to Azusa Pacific’s 272.24, picking up its 15th straight victory dating back to the 2011 season.
“This is an early reality check for us, because when you start off with the best, you know what you’re reaching for,” Cougar head coach Colleen Kausrud said. “I think it’s great to have the opportunity this early in the year to see what we’re up against.”
The Cougars won two of the six events from the Ducks, taking the Acro event in the first half before edging out Oregon in the toss event after halftime. Through four events, Azusa Pacific trailed by 74-hundredths of a point, but the Ducks’ strength in the tumbling event extended the lead to over two points heading into the final team event.
“The team performed better than I expected,” Kausrud said. “They did 100 percent more than what I thought they would do. They didn’t practice like this, so it was great to see them actually perform it. Things weren’t always hitting for us, but I’m very proud of the performance.”
Azusa Pacific needed a near-flawless performance in the team event, as the starting difficulty of the routine was already two points lower than Oregon’s routine, which started with a difficulty of the event’s maximum 110 points. The Cougars gave up two and half additional points in the team event for the final 4.55-point margin of defeat.
Oregon jumped out to the early lead, winning all four heats of the meet-opening compulsory event, taking a half-point edge (39.05 to 38.55). The Ducks scored the maximum 10 points in the pyramid heat, while the Cougars’ pyramid heat hardly gave up ground with a 9.95 performance.
The second event of the meet, the Acro Event, started with a 9.75-point effort in the first of three Acro heats. The quartet of Jessica Laughton, Kelly Seward, Madi Velling, and Asia Desamito actually made up the entire deficit in just the single heat when Oregon produced a 9.24 in the same heat. The result was a brief lead of .01 for the Cougars, which extended to .41 when the next heat featuring Claire Dresselhaus, Iliana Ibrahim, Emily Sanchez, Nicole Shook, and Cortnee Miller produced a 9.10 score for Azusa Pacific compared to an 8.70 for the Ducks.
The lead didn’t last another heat for Azusa Pacific, with the Ducks moving in front for good with a 9.60 in the final heat of Acro, which netted a score of 9.00 for the Cougars. Oregon scored 9.90 or better in all three heats of the Pyramid event to take a one-point lead of 96.34-95.30 into halftime. That lead was trimmed down to seven-tenths of a point after Azusa Pacific edged the Ducks in the Toss Event.
However, Oregon entered the six-heat Tumbling event with starting difficulty of 10.00 in five of the six heats, and the Ducks padded their lead with 57.20 points to Azusa Pacific’s 55.90 in Tumbling. Ibrahim registered a 9.875 score in the open to collect Azusa Pacific’s only victory in a Tumbling heat.
“Acros were probably one of our strongest events, but I was most pleased with our tumbling,” Kausrud said. “To come out and stay with Oregon in Tumbling, I was absolutely thrilled.”
The loss drops Azusa Pacific to 0-1 after opening the year against Oregon, which is now 1-0. The Cougars return to action when they visit Baylor University in Waco, Texas, on Tuesday, Feb. 26. Azusa Pacific’s remaining home meets are scheduled for March 13 in a triangular meet with Fairmont State and Qunnipiac, and April 17 against Baylor.