Acrobatics and tumbling competes in inaugural event

Acrobatics and tumbling competes in inaugural event
The acrobatics and tumbling team sets up the pyramid portion of its inaugural meet competing against the Oregon Ducks on Feb. 4. Photo by GoAugie/Jurgens Photography.

The Augustana Acrobatics and Tumbling team achieved its first win at a meet on Feb. 19 against the Concordia-Wisconsin Falcons by a score of 261.805-239.940.

The meet got underway with the Vikings tallying 36.550 points in the compulsory, outpacing the home Falcons who scored 32.500 points. Augustana went on to also win the next two events heading into the intermission, leading 91.40-81.00.

The fourth event of the afternoon, the toss, saw the Falcons come out with an event win at 27.05-26.35. However, the Vikings bounced back in the tumbling event with a 51.975-45.900 event win.

In the final event, the team event, Augustana improved upon its inaugural meet score by more than three points. The Vikings recorded 92.090 in the team event while Concordia-Wisconsin recorded 85.990 points.

The 261.805 overall score marks an over 10-point improvement for the team from its inaugural event earlier this month. Improvement was the central mindset of the team.

“We are looking to compete upgrades on some of the events, which will give us higher starting values,” freshman Paige Simon said. “We will be looking to upgrade our tosses and tumbling for not just the next meet, but for the rest of the season.”

From July 2021 until this school year head coach Kaelyn Cowan was the only member of the team on campus. Since then, she recruited 24 student-athletes and brought on a graduate assistant. Watching the team run out onto the mat for their first-ever meet on Feb. 4, she could only think of one word to describe the feeling: pride.

“I actually took a picture,” Cowan said. “Regardless of what went down on the mat, I was just really proud that they were there. They have stuck it out from the day they got here. I was proud of them before they even stepped on the floor.”

The 24 student-athletes all came to campus together in August and, for the most part, they all had to learn a whole new set of skills to be able to compete in February.

The Vikings fell to the No. 5 Oregon Ducks 268.685-251.655 at the Elmen Center during their first competition. Despite losing, the team was still proud to be able to compete.

“251 for the first meet is up there in terms of all of the teams’ first meets in the history of the sport,” Cowan said.

Meets are scored out of a potential 300 points. National champions typically get up to 280 by the end of the season.

One of the issues that can arise during an inaugural season is that everyone on the team is typically a freshman. However, Cowan found Kay Greene, a transfer junior, to compete as well. Greene brought both her knowledge of collegiate acrobatics and tumbling and experience to the inaugural team.

“There is a lot that goes into building a first-year program,” Greene said. “After our performance at our competition, everyone could see that coach Cowan did an exceptional job preparing us for our first meet.”

Greene gives Cowan high praise for her leadership as a coach and the trust she has for her athletes.

“The biggest factor that went into our smooth transition was her believing in us as well as us believing in each other,” Greene said. “She told us countless times that ‘We got this,’ or she knows we can hit it because ‘We hit it several times in practice.’ But my personal favorite is her dapping me up to take away some of my nerves and assure me that she believes in me.”

In the meet against the Ducks, the team went into halftime down 93.30-85.50.

“It was a turnout no one was expecting,” Greene said. “No matter what was going on, the crowd was engaging and supportive. By halftime, we all surprised ourselves because we were doing better than we had imagined. Even though we did not win the entirety of the competition, we did come out with three event wins, and in our book, that is a win. So in our eyes, we were winners that day.”

Cowan gave heavy props to the crowd, noting that it can be hard for people to know when they should and shouldn’t cheer during the first ever meet.

“It helped them to be in front of the home crowd,” Cowan said. “The crowd did great, they picked it up really, really quickly.”