AZUSA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific ended one of Oregon’s National Collegiate Acrobatics & Tumbling Association record streaks less than three weeks ago, but the Ducks kept their NCATA title streak alive with a near-perfect performance in front of a championship crowd of 2,088 to claim a fourth straight national title while avenging their regular-season defeat to the Cougars. Oregon posted an eight-point margin of victory, scoring 290.825 points to Azusa Pacific’s 282.600-point performance.
“The energy was amazing tonight, and our team really appreciated all the fan support,” Azusa Pacific head coach Colleen Kausrud said. “The team was very focused, and it was awesome to see them take that very big step to compete for a championship. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Oregon’s 290.825-point effort was the second-highest total in the NCATA’s four-year history, and it was less than a half-point off the record (291.26) which was set by the Ducks in a 2012 regular-season meet at Fairmont State.
The Ducks won four of the six events and picked up five perfect 10 scores throughout the meet, including back-to-back 10s to close out the first half in the pyramid event to open up a 1.75-point halftime lead. The Cougars shaved .15 off the lead by winning the toss event, but Oregon averaged a 9.89 in six tumbling heats, registering another 10 in the six element pass to take a 2.425-point lead into the final event. With a 103.45-point total in the team event, Oregon added 5.8 points to its winning margin to finish off the win.
“Oregon was at the top of its game tonight,” Kausrud said. “I don’t know if they made a mistake all night; they were very impressive. Even if we had been perfect, they still probably would have won.”
Both teams came back from semifinal victories earlier in the day to compete in Saturday night’s national title competition. Oregon scored 286.600 to advance over fourth-seeded Baylor in the first semifinal, and Azusa Pacific scored its season-best (284.725) to knock off Quinnipiac and set up the title-game rematch between the top-two seeded teams in the tournament.
“What I’ll remember most about this team is their ability to focus and their ability to come together for a meet,” Kausrud said. “I’ve never had a team that’s been able to pull together the way this group does.”
Sophomore Ahnaliese Spitzer helped keep the Cougars’ slim hopes for an upset alive, registering a 9.95 in the aerial pass, and the Cougars’ trio of Spitzer, senior Jessica Laughton and sophomore Jamie Montgomery put together a 9.80 to Oregon’s 9.70 score for Azusa Pacific’s tumbling event win. Despite scoring its best team event of the season, the Cougars were unable to match a Ducks team which was determined to avenge its first NCATA defeat since 2011. That year, Oregon lost to Maryland in the regular season before avenging that loss to the championship host, Maryland, and the Ducks did it again three years later by saving their best performance all year for the final competition.
Earlier in the day, Azusa Pacific scored a season-high 284.725 points for a 6.585-point winning margin over third-seeded Quinnipiac, which is a school the Cougars have faced in all four years of NCATA competition.
“This team focuses really well,” Kausrud said following the semifinals. “I wasn’t sure when they first got here if they would be able to wake up and be ready to go early, but they came through.”
Against Quinnipiac, Azusa Pacific scored three 10s and registered a season-best 99.00-point performance in the team event.
After losing in its first-event NCATA championship meet, Azusa Pacific finishes the year with a 7-3 overall record, while Oregon wins the 2014 NCATA championship with a 12-1 campaign.