AZUSA, Calif. -- Less than three weeks ago, Azusa Pacific snapped Oregon’s national-record 31-meet winning streak, and Thursday night the Cougars made more National Collegiate Acrobatics & Tumbling Association (NCATA) history by claiming five national titles in the individual event finals. In doing so, Azusa Pacific becomes the only NCATA program besides Oregon to win at least five championships in the individual event finals competition.
In three previous years of NCATA competition, the Cougars had claimed one individual title per year before shattering the program-best with Thursday’s five-title haul. However, it was still Oregon which led all programs for the fourth consecutive year with six individual titles, although its 2014 total represents half its record championship haul of 12 individual championships a year ago.
The NCATA also announced the 2014 NCATA All-Americans, which included Azusa Pacific senior Jessica Laughton and sophomore Emily Sanchez, who both also won individual national championships Thursday night.
Laughton and Sanchez were both a part of the Cougars’ flipping pyramid championship event, which posted the first of nine perfect-10 scores throughout the event finals competition, which encompassed 15 separate heats of a standard NCATA meet. Laughton helped net the second championship of the night when the Cougars notched a 9.90 in the two-element toss.
Both Azusa Pacific and Oregon posted perfect-10s in the open toss to force a tiebreaker heat, and the Cougars repeated the effort with another 10 to Oregon’s 9.80 in the tiebreaker. Freshman Ellen Barker and junior Falynn Martinez scored 9.90 to win the duo tumbling individual title, and sophomore Ahnaliese Spitzer notched another 10 to win the aerial tumbling championship.
The meet concluded with Oregon’s Tara Lubert and Azusa Pacific sophomore Jamie Montgomery tying in the open tumbling heat with perfect-10s to force one final tiebreaker heat. This time, Lubert posted a 9.975 to deliver Oregon’s sixth individual title of the meet.
Azusa Pacific and Oregon, the top two seeded teams in the 2014 NCATA National Championships, combined for 11 of the 15 individual event titles. The first-year program from Gannon University won two titles (Acro 6 Element and Acro 7 Element), and Baylor (Tumbling 6 Element) and Quinnipiac (Twisting Pyramid) picked up the other two.
Spitzer claimed a team-high three individual national championships for Azusa Pacific, which had five others who claimed two titles: Barker, Laughton, Martinez, sophomore Triana Leal, and senior Madi Velling. The other Cougars with a spot on one individual national championship were junior Asia Desamito, sophomore Claire Dresselhaus, sophomore Kirsten Ferramola, sophomore Katie Ingersoll, junior Katelynn McDougall, Montgomery, Sanchez, sophomore Gabrielle Sheffield, and sophomore Abby Slager.
Azusa Pacific, the No. 2-seed in the nine-team NCATA National Championships, takes a 5-2 record into Friday’s 7:30 p.m. quarterfinal matchup with No. 7-seeded Gannon.