EUGENE, Ore. -- Azusa Pacific took the University of Oregon and its 22-meet acrobatics and tumbling winning streak down to the final event Monday night in Eugene, but the three-time defending national champion Ducks held off the challenge from the upstart Cougars for a two-point win and a sweep of a tri-meet which included last year’s national runner-up Quinnipiac University.
Oregon, which entered the final event of the meet with a narrow lead of just six-tenths of a point, scored 99.20 in the Team event, which was enough to snuff Azusa Pacific’s upset bid after the Cougars tallied 97.60 in the final event. The Ducks posted a final score of 280.575 for a 2.215-point margin of victory over Azusa Pacific, which scored 278.36 for its best meet score since 2012 (287.375), and Quinnipiac, which registered 270.18 to finish a distant third in the tri-meet.
Azusa Pacific, which had beaten Oregon in the Acro event in five of the six previous regular-season meetings, tied the Ducks with a score of 28.05 in Monday’s Acro event and trailed by just .75 points at halftime with three of six events completed.
“We knew the talent was there with this year’s team, and they have kept their focus and done what they need to do to compete at this level,” head coach Colleen Kausrud said. “This team has a level of confidence that comes into play, and they aren’t intimidated. Beating Quinnipiac in this meet builds a little more confidence for us, and I think we finally opened some eyes to the idea that we could be a national title contender.”
After Oregon added just five-hundredths of a point to its lead after the fourth event (Toss), Azusa Pacific scored 57.61 points in the Tumbling event for its first-ever win over the Ducks in tumbling, edging UO’s 57.43-point effort. The Cougars won two of the six Tumbling heats and freshmen Kalani Aguigui and Sydney Folsom joined sophomore Emily Sanchez and junior Heather DiSpaltro to tie the Ducks in the quad pass heat with 8.95 points despite a starting value 45-hundredths lower than Oregon’s.
Ahnaliese Spitzer scored 9.78 to win the aerial pass tumbling heat, and she was in the Cougars’ winning trio pass heat along with sophomore Jamie Montgomery and senior Jessica Laughton. The trio pass scored 9.70 points to Oregon’s 9.30 and Quinnipiac’s 9.40, which represented the widest winning margin of any tumbling heat. The event win in Tumbling closed the gap between the teams to just 61-hundredths of a point heading into the 110-point team event to close out the meet.
“Beating Oregon in tumbling is a big challenge,” Kausrud said. “Now it’s just a matter of cleaning everything up. We have a few things to work on, but I know we can avoid some of the deductions and score even better in the team event than we did tonight.”
With the split, which snapped a two-meet losing streak to Quinnipiac, Azusa Pacific is now 2-1 on the season, while Oregon improves to 3-0 and Quinnipiac falls to 2-2. The Cougars return to action with their 2014 home opener on Tuesday, March 18, at 6:30 p.m., in a tri-meet with Baylor and the first-year acrobatics and tumbling program from Hawai‘i Pacific.