AZUSA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific’s acrobatics & tumbling time continued its late-season turnaround, scoring a season-high 276.56 points in Thursday’s regular-season finale to avenge its February defeat to Baylor, which tallied 271.80 points.
The 4.76-point margin of victory was the Cougars’ biggest win in an NCATA (National Collegiate Acrobatics & Tumbling Association) dual meet since last year’s season-opening win over Baylor. Azusa Pacific’s overall score of 276.56 points was also its best meet score since tallying 287.375 over a year ago in a road win against Quinnipiac, which hosts the upcoming NCATA National Championships later this month.
“To us, it’s more about us performing to our best than it is to beat anybody else,” Azusa Pacific head coach Colleen Kausrud said. “If we can come out confident, it won’t matter what the start values are. Even though we lost big at Oregon (last week), I felt that we had performed pretty well. We could have done better in several things, but that meet helped build our confidence to the level where we showed tonight what we’re capable of doing.”
In Thursday’s win, the Cougars won five of the six events, including the team event in which its starting difficulty value (SDV) was nearly two full points lower than Baylor, which had the 110-point maximum SDV. Despite starting with that disadvantage, Azusa Pacific beat the Bears in the team event by a margin of 1.76 points with a season-best score of 97.31 in the team event.
“We did a lot better in compulsory than we’ve done in a while, and that gave us a great start,” Kausrud said. “The team event is also a huge deal because it carries so much weight into our final score. The team came out more confident than they have all season. They had the mindset that this is more of a mind game than a physical game, and as physical as our sport is, it’s much harder to win that mind game.”
The Cougars also recorded season-bests in the acro (28.25), pyramid (29.50), and toss (28.95) events, while coming within four-tenths of a point of its season-high in tumbling with a score of 55.50. After winning the first two events of the meet (compulsory and acro) by at least one full point in each event, Azusa Pacific notched two 9.85 scores and a 9.80 in the three-heat event for a 29.50-point pyramid score. That pushed the halftime lead to a full 2.50 points (94.80-92.30).
Season-bests in each of the first two toss heats helped the Cougars push the lead to more than three points heading into tumbling, where Baylor managed to knock just a tenth of a point off the big Cougar lead. That gave Azusa Pacific a full three-point edge heading into the 110-point team event, where it closed out its strong performance by setting a season-best in the team event for the second consecutive competition.
“To be able to perform as well as we did was something we needed to get under our belt heading into the championships later this month,” Kausrud said. “Now this team knows what type of confidence they need to have when they walk onto the floor.”
With the win, Azusa Pacific wraps up its regular season with a 2-4 overall record, while Baylor also finishes at 2-4. Both teams will participate in the NCATA National Championships April 25-27 in Hamden, Conn.