Mulkey, No. 1 Baylor acro & tumbling to preach ‘execution’ ahead of No. 4 Oregon

No. 1 Baylor acrobatics and tumbling has defeated No. 4 Oregon in eight straight meets. Camie Jobe | Photographer

By Zach Babajanof-Rustrian | Sports Writer

After a short break from its highest scoring meet against then-No. 13 Augustana on March 23, No. 1 Baylor acrobatics and tumbling is looking ahead toward No. 4 Oregon, as the two sides will meet on April 5 in Eugene, Ore.

Head coach Felecia Mulkey said the Bears (7-0) have been working on their execution ahead of their match against the Ducks, which will be a rematch from their meeting on Feb. 25 in Waco.

“We changed the structure of our team event a little bit, hopefully to improve our execution score,” Mulkey said. “Our tumbling passes personnel are changing a little bit. … They’re still improving. Alyiah Thomas was able to get a new pass last week, which we will compete this week.

“We have gotten to that point of the year where — do you take more risk to get the score higher or do you execute what you have really well? — that kind of fulcrum point.”

In terms of tweaking personnel, Mulkey said it’s pretty normal at this point of the season, especially since the team hasn’t peaked yet, and she doesn’t envision them performing at that level against Oregon just yet either.

Baylor scored its highest point total of the year in its meet against the Vikings, as the squad put up 281.600. Even with the high-scoring outing, Mulkey said she didn’t agree with the score, as she said she knew the total would be dropped when it came to averaging scores.

“I really didn’t take it to heart too much,” Mulkey said. “I think that we were incredibly overscored in our team event — like, comically overscored. I don’t know if it had been a different officiating panel [or] if it would have been that high.

“The interesting thing about that meet, if you looked at the stats or the box scores, notice how low all the heat scores are compared to every other meet we have been in but then how high our team event was. That’s why to me it was a little lopsided.”

While she’s been focusing on the Bears, Mulkey has also been scouting out her competition. Since the last time Baylor and Oregon met, Mulkey said the Ducks have increased their overall start value. The Bears used to be two points higher than the Ducks in overall start value, but now the Ducks have reduced that to less than a half a point start value below the Bears.

“That’s why I think, like now, we can keep up our start value, but is it really worth the execution? And that’s where I think we have them a little bit even though their toss event has a higher start value than ours, but I think we have better execution,” Mulkey said. “It will be a good match. It will be the best match of the year. Gannon I feel like was the best match of the year so far. This one will be a battle.”

While the meet against Oregon is a big one, Mulkey said she’s also paying attention to the No. 3 Gannon versus No. 2 Quinnipiac match, as that will determine who will be ranked two and three going into the national championships.

“For me, I want to watch that meet between Gannon and Quinnipiac because I think if everything goes according to plan, we’ll meet one of those teams in the championship if we continue to advance. And so I want to watch and make sure that I can out-execute them,” Mulkey said. “[After that I] then make the decision: Do I want to go up in start value, or do I want to go down maybe and improve execution?”

The Bears will meet the Ducks at 7 p.m. on Friday as they square off in the Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Ore.