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Oregon acrobatics & tumbling wins 22nd consecutive meet in season opener vs Baylor

You may have never heard of them, but the Oregon acrobatics & tumbling team is making plenty of noise on campus. They kicked off their quest for a fourth straight national championship on Thursday night at Matthew Knight Arena with a big win over Baylor.

Steve Dykes

The Oregon acrobatics & tumbling team got their 2014 season started on the right foot with a 280.2-274.38 win over the Baylor Bears. The win marked the 22nd consecutive victory for the Ducks dating back to 2011. The last team to beat Oregon was Maryland, a program that no longer exists. No current team in the country has been able to defeat the Ducks yet.

"As a team, we’ve never had to go through losing one yet," said junior base Tara Lubert. "It’s bound to happen eventually sometime, but we’re hoping not this year again so it’s exciting."

Both teams started strong in the opening compulsories event made up of four heats. In the pyramid heat, Oregon answered Baylor’s 9.9 score with a perfect 10 of their own. Normally early on in the season, teams have to shake off some offseason rust, but the both team’s scores were consistently strong early on. Oregon edged out Baylor 38.85-38.10 in the compulsories for the early lead.

The Ducks would also edge the Bears in the acro event, which is composed of such skills like a 360 degree flip, twisting and releasing. Oregon built their overall lead, winning the acro event 28.45-27.75 with a high score in the round during their second heat of 9.70.

Oregon continued to build their lead with more strong scores in the pyramid event (9.7, 9.75, 9.85) while Baylor scored no higher than 9.65 during the round.

At the break, Oregon led 96.6-94.55. In a sport where deductions come in such small amounts, a team can almost start to go on cruise control with a two point lead.

In the toss event, it was the same story, different round. Oregon continued to slowly but steadily pull away from Baylor to put themselves in good position heading into the final events, winning the round 29.05-28.45 to lead 125.70-122.95. The win was more impressive considering the Ducks were forced to change their entire gameplan for the toss event after sophomore base Shelby Armstrong went down with a sprained ankle last week in practice. Jordyn Fox, a freshman back base from Georgetown, Texas, was put in Armstrong's place and flew during the team routine, an adjustment that Oregon head coach Felecia Mulkey was blown away by.

"The fact that we not only hung in there, but won that event, I’m so proud of this team," said Mulkey. "It’s due to mental strength. They're physically able, but the chemistry is just phenomenal."

If a two point lead was a nice cushion, imagine the confidence of building that by almost a full point. By this point, it would take nearly a full-blown collapse by Oregon to lose the meet.

Oregon tends to shine in the tumbling event with some of their best athletes competing during this round. Oregon and Baylor were neck and neck during the round until a score of 9.9 in the ariel heat and a 9.85 in the six element heat to pull away and win the event 57.1-56.61. By this point, the Ducks led by an overall score of 182.8-179.64.

"When I got to the tumbling event, I was just so excited," said Lubert. "I wanted to perform for my home."

Things at Matthew Knight Arena wrapped up with the team event, which is essentially a more impressive version of Bring it On. It’s that same type of custom remix of today’s top hits on the radio, but more chaos. It’s not as much organized pyramids, but rather flips here and twists there. So many things are going on, you really don’t know where to look. Oregon also took the team routine by a score of 97.4-94.74

"It felt like we were at the Olympics," said Lubert. "The whole crowd was saying, ‘Let’s go Ducks,’ and it was just really awesome."

If you’ve never been to one of these meets, they are actually quite impressive. Between enough flips to make anyone watching dizzy and some impressive skill sets that require more strength than most of us have, the sport is probably one of the cooler things on this campus

Attendance is similar to that of a women’s basketball game, but it is much louder because everyone is squeezed into the north side of the arena. And if you don’t know when something good happens, the 1,046 fans in attendance on Thursday night were sure to let you know.

The sport itself is growing as well. In one season, the leauge more than doubled in size from five teams to 11. Next year, Concordia University Wisconsin will become the 12th team to join the NCATA (National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association).

Next up for the Ducks will be a meet against Quinnipiac and Azusa Pacific on March 10 at Matthew Knight Arena as they look for win number 23 in a row.