The Vikings’ acrobatics and tumbling team concluded its inaugural season with a tri-meet sweep over Trine University and Adrian College in Indiana.
The Vikings totaled 251.085 points, with Indiana-located host Trine scoring 229.800 and Adrian scoring 219.770. The two wins bring their regular season record to 5-2.
“Our last meet may be the lowest-scoring meet of the season, but it was our best meet by far,” head coach Kaelyn Cowan said. “We peaked at the end of the year. The team event was flawless. It was just that everyone knew their assignment.”
In the team event, the Vikings scored 84.11 points to seal their victory on the final day.
The Vikings’ best-scoring event came on March 17 against Concordia University Wisconsin. In the penultimate meet of the year, the team scored 266.765 points — a number that no other first-year team surpassed this season.
“The team bought in, and that’s what we needed to have from the very beginning,” Cowan said. “They trusted me, sometimes in my ridiculous ways even, and I think once they fully bought into what our goals were, it wasn’t about the wins and losses anymore.”
With many of Cowan’s athletes not even playing the sport until they got on campus, the team has developed throughout the year. However, having transfers, like sophomore base and tumbler Alana Machac, made the team’s start easier.
“Going through each practice through preseason, I got to see 21 freshmen learn a sport that they have never done before,” Machac said. “Not only did they learn fast, but they did it very well. We never let the fact that we were an inaugural team stand in the way of our team being successful. We learned with the help of our coaches to work hard and compete not for ourselves but for each other.”
The team’s next goal is to make it to the postseason. With 36 schools competing, only the best of the best get to participate in the national meet. The top eight schools are picked based on face-to-face competition scores, difficulty and strength of schedule.
Cowan believes her team would be ranked near the top 15, which gives them a base to build off of for next season.
“I give all the credit to the kiddos for that,” Cowan said. “We have 14 or 15 new athletes coming in with the potential of a couple of transfers still. I think we proved that we are somewhere to go, especially Division II.”
With the season over, Cowan’s focus will shift to next fall and having to teach a new group of freshmen how to play a sport they’ve never played before. However, this time she will have 24 returning athletes by her side.
“It is true that athletes will now have to compete for a spot on the mat at competitions, but with the support of each other and the shared common goal, the team culture will always stay the same,” Machac said. “Our team has always worked as one. We are always encouraging our teammates to continue getting better on and off the mat.”
Cowan has worked tirelessly on this first season since July 2021. Now that the season is over, and everything she has worked for has come to fruition.
“If you told me that this is how the first year was going to go, I would have never believed you,” Cowan said. “It has been incredible, from administration to my other head coaches being so helpful and every single person in between. I’m just so grateful. I’m just so excited to grow for next year too. We have set one of the best foundations that I think there have been in the sport. We’ve definitely put our name on the map.”