By Jeffrey Swindoll
Baylor acrobatics & tumbling completed a perfect regular season for the first time in program history after beating the No. 2, four-time national champion University of Oregon for the second time this season in front of a passionate home crowd at the Ferrell Center on Sunday.
“I felt like our girls really executed well [Sunday],” head coach Fee Mulkey said. “We had had a couple of misses at the Oregon meet early in the first half that had set us back a couple points. We were able to hang on to the lead from the start and consistently hit everything throughout the meet.”
Baylor took the lead over the Ducks at the start of the meet, scoring a 38.30 to Oregon’s 37.95 in the Compulsory event. The Bears extended their lead in the Acro event, despite the Ducks having two of its three participants in the event scoring the two highest scores. Oregon’s third acro heat crippled the Ducks’ chances of taking the lead after an 8.90 left the door wide open for the Bears to continue with the lead.
Baylor and Oregon shared almost identical scores in the pyramid event, but the Bears’ second heat is what boosted the Bears further into the lead. The small margins of victory continued to add up for the Bears, making it a slightly bigger lead after each event.
The Bears took a slight step backward in the toss event though. Oregon scored just .05 points higher than Baylor in toss, leaving the tumbling and team events on the table. The Ducks, down 124.45-125.50, found themselves in a similar position the Bears were in their previous meeting in Eugene, Ore. The Ducks had a small lead heading into the final two events, but the Bears came back to deal the Ducks their first home loss in program history.
Baylor saved the best for last, disallowing Oregon to the favor from earlier in the season. The Bears outperformed in tumbling and smashed the Ducks in the routine team event, the meet finale. Baylor outscored Oregon in the last two events 158.775 to 150.190 – the biggest two-event margin of the meet. The final score was 284.245-274.640.
The Bears sent off their seniors in historic fashion, finishing the season 9-0 as the top team in the country ahead of the championships later this month.
Mulkey, who signed with the Bears this season, previously led Oregon to four national titles. With Mulkey on board with Baylor, the Bears look to take their first national title in acrobatics and tumbling at the NCATA Team Championships starting April 24 in Fairmont, W. Va.
“Believe it or not, we still have room for improvement, and I’m proud of these girls for staying focused,” Mulkey said. “It can be difficult keeping your focus going into the end with the lead. We are looking forward to the national championships where we will peak.”