Acrobatics & Tumbling Caps Off Perfect Season With Second Straight National Championship
Sean Larson, EDN Sports
Waco, Tex — In case you hadn’t heard of them before, the ladies of Oregon’s Acrobatics & Tumbling team are making sure you have now.
On Saturday night, Oregon (11-0) capped off the first perfect season in NCATA (National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association) history, defeating top ranked Maryland (9-2) 281.935-277.885 at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. The win notched up a second-straight NCATA national championship for the Ducks.
Their run to defend last season’s national title began right here in Eugene back on February 17 against Azusa Pacific and Quinnipiac.
The meet remained close until the tumbling portion of the meet, an area that the team wanted to improve on in the offseason. They were able to pull away, and capped off the night with a win in the team performance. Oregon finished the night with 285.23 points. Azusa Pacific came in second with 280.73 points, and Quinnipiac was third with 274.62 points.
In their second and final home meet of the season, the Ducks made a statement on Senior Day, defeating Baylor with ease by a final score of 287.115-267.220. Once again, Oregon continued to improve in the tumbling event thanks to big scores from senior Kelsey Rowell and freshman Nicole Erlichman. The Ducks cruised through the team event to notch up the win, remaining undefeated (7-0) at Matthew Knight Arena dating back to last season.
The team would rack up plenty of frequent flier miles for the rest of the season, as four of their final five meets were at least 2,000 miles from home, including two cross country trips to Georgia and West Virginia.
Oregon would prove to be up to the challenge, winning all of the meets, establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with.
In their first trip to Rome, Georgia, Oregon faced Maryland, Quinnipiac, and Fairmont State. The Ducks would win the meet with 287.84 points. Maryland, the last team to beat Oregon, finished second with 284.11 points. Fairmont State was third with 280.675, and Quinnipiac finished fourth with 279.54 points.
Oregon continued to look strong in the pyramid and tumbling events, tallying near perfect scores in many of the heats of both events.
Kelsey Rowell and Nicole Erlichman both picked up perfect scores in their tumbling events, while sophomore Natasha Katzaroff scored a 9.95 in the open pass.
Another successful team routine notched up another win for Oregon as they improved to 6-0 on the season.
Next up for Oregon was a trip to West Virginia where they would face Fairmont State in a dual meet.
In what seemed to be a recurring theme, Oregon turned in strong performances in the pyramid and tumbling events. The Ducks would turn in two perfect scores in the aerial and six-element tumbling passes, the second straight time Oregon had done so.
Going into the team portion, Oregon led by less than two points, but scored a season-high 106.76 points to remain undefeated on the year, defeating Fairmont State by a final score of 291.26-288.375.
Oregon would then travel to Waco, Texas in a rematch against Baylor.
While the Ducks were used to leading after the compulsory round, a difficult pyramid and tumbling round allowed Baylor to tie Oregon at 38.55 heading into the acro event.
After a shaky start, Oregon pulled away the rest of the meet, especially in the pyramid event, scoring a 10.0, 9.9, and 9.95 in their heats.
Another strong team performance notched up a 275.135-265.91 win over Baylor, as the Ducks improved to 8-0 on the season.
Oregon would end their regular season at Azusa Pacific in what would prove to be their closest meet of the season.
Just like they had done all season, the Ducks would build an early lead with a successful compulsory round, leading 39.20-38.10 early on.
After struggling in the acro event, Oregon tallied two 9.90s and a 9.80 in the pyramid event to continue to pull away from the Cougars.
Oregon would use the tumbling event to put themselves in position for the win, recording 57.00 points out of 59.65. The highest score score was recorded in the six-element pass by freshman Nicole Erlichman, earning a 9.925 out of 10.
Oregon (9-0) would scrape by the Cougars with a 277.560-275.525 win, wrapping up a perfect season.
After defeating Baylor for the third time of the season during the NCATA championships, Oregon would face Maryland, the last team to beat the Ducks, with a national title on the line.
Once again, Oregon showed strength in the compulsory round, earning a 38.70 thanks to strong performances in the pyramid and toss portion of the event.
However, the Ducks would struggle in the toss event, and the Terps would take a 125.10-124.75 lead into the tumbling portion.
Oregon would take care of business in the duo and trio pass, but the solo passes was where the Ducks would shine and gain some momentum. Senior Kelsey Rowell would win the aerial pass, and sophomore Natasha Katzaroff would win the open pass.
The Ducks now had momentum on their side, and all they needed to notch up a second straight national championship was a strong showing in the team performance. Oregon would do just that thanks to a low score from Maryland. The Ducks defeated the terps 99.11-95.41 in the team routine, and clinched the title by a final score of 281.935-277.885.
During the past two seasons, the Ducks have dominated the NCATA. They have gone 19-1, and have never lost at home during their national title runs.
Students may not know who these girls are, but the more wins and national championships this team brings to Oregon, the more popular they will become. While it is hard to top a perfect season that was capped off with a national championship, you can be sure the Ducks will be gunning for a three-peat next season.