Acrobatics & Tumbling

Acrobatics and tumbling: Ducks maintain winning streak in tight tri-meet versus Azusa Pacific and Quinnipiac

Going into Monday night’s meets, Oregon acrobatics and tumbling had a 22-meet winning streak. Complacency would have been understandable for the Ducks against Quinnipiac and Azusa Pacific. Oregon head coach Felecia Mulkey, however, has continually tried to keep her team on edge.

“Coach has been saying all season long, ‘Can we handle it?’” junior base Tara Lubert said. “Tonight, we did.”

While the Azusa Pacific Cougars stayed within striking distance for the duration of the meet, Oregon eventually outlasted them, picking up its 23rd and 24th straight victories in the first tri-meet of the season. The Ducks finished with a score of 280.570, while Azusa Pacific scored 278.450 and Quinnipiac rounded out the group at 270.180.

“That was a closer one than what we’ve been used to in the past couple years,” Mulkey said. “I’m really impressed with Azusa Pacific.”

Oregon set the pace early on, but Azusa Pacific remained stride-for-stride with the Ducks throughout the evening.

During the tumbling element of the meet, Azusa Pacific made its move at taking out Oregon. The Cougars outscored Oregon in three of the first four heats of the event and looked to have all the momentum. That was until Nicole Erlichman and Lubert headed to the mat for the final two heats. Competing in the six element and the open heat, Erlichman and Lubert posted back-to-back scores that eclipsed the 9.9 mark.

“We needed those scores,” Mulkey said. “After the quad pass score came out, we knew that we needed some better scores. We wanted to lengthen that gap a little bit.

“That was a sigh of relief.”

The momentum created from Erlichman and Lubert’s individual performance carried over to Oregon’s team routine. Before Oregon could go, they had to watch Azusa Pacific give its final performance of the evening.

“Going into team routine, we all got really pumped up seeing how great Azusa Pacific did in theirs,” Lubert said. “We knew we had to come out and kill it.”

Mulkey’s question of whether or not her team could handle the pressure to maintain the winning streak was answered with a resounding “Yes” by her team’s closing performance of the night.

“It was really exciting because we hit it,” freshman top Rachael Block said. “It was a really good feeling knowing we did the best that we could do.”

Even after the performance had concluded, the team still had to wait to know that it had secured its 23rd straight win.

“We didn’t know we won after team routine,” Lubert said. “I was so nervous waiting for those scores to come up just because it was such a close meet. Once we heard the scores, it was so exciting. It was like winning a national championship.”

While the Ducks have dominated acrobatics and tumbling, their most recent performance might be a sign that the gap between them and the rest of the country has been shortened, potentially serving as motivation moving forward.

“It feels good to win, but honestly it’s probably more of motivator,” Mulkey said. “I don’t want it to be that close again when we compete against Azusa Pacific. We’re better than what we put out there tonight.”

Follow Joseph Hoyt on Twitter @jhoyt42

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