No. 1 Baylor A&T top No. 14 UMHB in season opener

No. 1 Baylor acrobatics and tumbling opened their season with a 277.930-251.305 victory over the No. 14 University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Saturday evening in the Ferrell Center. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Michael Haag | Sports Writer

No. 1 Baylor acrobatics and tumbling opened their season on a good note with a 277.930-251.305 victory over the No. 14 University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Saturday evening in the Ferrell Center. The Bears (1-0) led for the entire match and cruised to a comfortable victory over the Crusaders (0-1). Under head coach Felecia Mulkey, the Bears are 8-0 in season openers.

The recent ice storm took a toll on the squad’s ability to prepare for the event, but Mulkey was proud of how the team performed. She said the group doesn’t want to be performing at their best this early in the season, as they’d like to save that high level of play for the end.

“It was a scattered week,” Mulkey said. “It was great to get out here and actually be able to focus. I’m proud of them. We have a lot of work to do. [We] don’t want to peak this early in the season anyway.”

Sophomore base Riley Chimwala echoed the message that the team doesn’t want to peak in the first meet and that it’s a gradual increase over the course of the season.

“We don’t want to peak at the first meet,” Chimwala said. “It’s like a [gradual] build. So, I think we started in a really good place today.”

The nerves were in place for junior top Emily Tobin who said everything came back natural to her once the meet was under way.

“I think the start is a little bit nerve wracking, but once we take stuff out on the floor it all comes natural and our practice just comes into play,” Tobin said.

Baylor created some early separation in the compulsory events, only narrowly being outscored in the pyramid 9.800 to 9.700. The Bears established a cushion in every other event, as they led 38.000-33.250 heading into the acro event. The Bears took the lead and never let their foot off the gas the rest of the way. UMHB kept things close in both the acro and pyramid events, but Baylor collected 59.15 points to take an eight point edge into the half.

The Bears continued to build on their lead in the toss event where they scored 28.550 points. Tumbling was another success for Baylor as they posted 56.400 points to lead UMHB 277.930-254.305 with one event left.

In the team event, Baylor put on a performance that gathered 95.830 points which closed out the win against the Crusaders.

The Baylor fans showed up for this event and brought the energy for the entire match. Them, along with the Baylor Spirit Squad, stood out to Chimwala and the rest of the team.

“It was really fun [to have the crowd],” Chimwala said. “I love when there’s a big crowd. I like how that brings the energy. I love when the cheerleaders are here, it makes my heart happy.”

Mulkey said the team trusted their training and that’s why they were able to get the win. She said they actually tried some new things to see how the team responded and it paid off.

“They did great, I am proud,” Mulkey said. “They trusted their training. We put some really difficult skills out there today just to see [what would happen]. I put some new tumblers out there so yeah, I couldn’t be more proud of how they pulled together and executed what we practiced this week.”

Baylor will hit the road to take on East Texas Baptist University, scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 16 at 5 p.m. CT in the Ornelas Gymnasium in Marshall. Baylor is 2-0 all-time versus the Tigers (0-0), the last match being from April 1, 2021.

Mulkey wants to continue that trend of peaking at the right time in the season, but expects to perform well in their first road contest of the season.

“We’re not going to peak that day either, but we’re going to execute,” Mulkey said.