No. 1 Baylor acro & tumbling has eyes set on eighth-straight title

The No. 1 Baylor acrobatics and tumbling team celebrates during a meet against No. 7 Hawaii Pacific University on April 2, 2022 in the Ferrell Center. Grace Everett | Photographer

By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer

No. 1 Baylor acrobatics and tumbling is locked in for Sunday’s season opener and is hungry for success despite winning the last seven national titles. The team has been ranked No. 1 in eight-straight preseason polls and the Bears have no intention of letting up off the gas any time soon.

“[There’s] lots of fire under us,” junior base Bayley Humphrey said. “We just want to showcase all of our hard work, so it really motivates us to keep going.”

Senior tumbler Kamryn Kitchens said “this team hasn’t done anything yet.”

“It’s exciting, it definitely lights the fire because we want to keep that spot, we want to stay at number one so we’re gonna get out there, do our best, show everybody what we can do, and hopefully keep that number one spot,” Kitchens said.

It all starts at 3 p.m. on Sunday in the Ferrell Center, where for the eighth-consecutive season, the green and gold will defend its national title. The Bears will face off against No. 15 West Liberty University and are looking to start off strong. Head coach Felecia Mulkey said that even 11 personal national titles later, she still gets excited for the first meet of the year.

“Oh yeah, because it’s the journey,” Mulkey said. “Every first meet is different, every team is different. And it’s fun to watch them. You live vicariously through them. I don’t have kids, but this must be what it’s like to have children, because I get excited for them and to watch them ramp up to the first meet.”

After the squad’s hard-working offseason, it’s not worried about starting slow.

“It’s all about technique and muscle memory,” Humphrey said. “We practice so hard and it just becomes subconscious to us. We just knock off the rust and go and perform.”

Mulkey said the offseason is always very important because the team’s success is strongly dependent on that time.

“You take the fall, and bring everybody to the same playing field, because they’re all from different backgrounds,” Mulkey said. “So, the fall is a lot about common ground for everyone. And then, they’re in the weight room getting stronger than everybody in the country. When we hit January, they’re ready to go.”