No. 1 A&T Headed to NCATA Championship Finals

Town Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Insider

EUGENE, Ore. – Winning all six events and all but two heats, top-ranked Baylor acrobatics & tumbling advanced to its seventh-consecutive NCATA Championship final by edging fourth-seeded Quinnipiac, 273,600-269,125, Friday night at Matthew Knight Arena.
Cleaning up some of the second-half mistakes they made in Thursday’s semifinal win over Converse, the Bears (10-0) pulled out one of their closest matchups in a 15-meet winning streak dating back to last season.
“Whew! Feels good,” said the Baylor coach Felecia Mulkey. “Yesterday, we left a little out there in the second half, and I feel like we improved a little bit, but I do think we left a little out there. I think we’ve got some more points that we can grab (Saturday ).
“But overall, I’m super proud of the team, had a great mindset the whole time. We made some adjustments, they rolled with them, and it paid off.”
Gunning for its seventh-straight national championship, Baylor will face third-seeded Gannon (10-1) in Saturday’s 9 pm CT final. Winless at the NCATA Championship until this year, the Golden Knights defeated Limestone on Thursday before a mild upset of second-seeded Azusa Pacific on Friday, 267,345-262,245.
Gannon coach Jacquie Eshleman competed for Mulkey on Kennesaw’s competitive cheer team and then transferred to Oregon for the Ducks’ inaugural acrobatics & tumbling season, when they finished third in the NCA Championship.
“I love her dearly, and I’m ridiculously excited for her,” Mulkey said. “It is well deserved, and her team is fantastic. It’s great for the sport. But, the parity. (Thursday’s) Oregon-Quinnipiac meet was fantastic. It didn’t used to be that way. Both meets today were really, really good and competitive.”
Quinnipiac (6-4), which beat Oregon twice and split with Gannon, managed to keep it close and trailed by just over a point at halftime, 97,825-96,700. With three scores of 9,900 or better, Baylor won the compulsory (38,600-38,300), acro (29,575-29,250) and pyramid (29,650-29,150).
“We talk a lot about the process on our team,” sophomore All-American base Riley Chimwala said. “We didn’t want to peak today, we didn’t want to peak (on Thursday). We need to peak at the perfect tie, so that’ll be (Saturday) so we can win the national championship.”
When the Bears extended their lead by winning the toss event, 28,750-27,950, “we could have walked out of the gym right there,” Mulkey said.
“Anytime we score higher than the other team in a toss event, there’s a huge celebration,” she said. “We made a little bit of adjustments in there and worked on some technical stuff, and they just came out and killed it.”
Quinnipiac’s only heat win came in the tumbling six-element pass, but Baylor won the other five heats and had a somewhat comfortable 3 ½-point lead going into the closing team event. Despite some slips, the Bears won the team event, 89,350-88,310, and will carry that momentum into Saturday’s final.
“It’s amazing,” the fifth-year senior Briana Harris said. “A year ago, I didn’t think I’d be able to be back where I am today. I’m very grateful to be here, blessed my body can still do it this far alone. Just one more day left. But honestly, I’m just happy that I chose Baylor five years ago and I’m still here.”
Baylor is 5-0 all-time against Gannon, including a 10-point win over the Golden Knights, 290,650-280,665, on March 3, 2020, just before the season was canceled because of COVID. Saturday’s final will be streamed by ESPN+, following the individual event finals at 1 pm CT.
“I get asked this question all the time: Do you think it would be great if somebody else could win?” Mulkey said. “Absolutely. But, you’re going to have to come and beat you. I’m not going to give it to you.”

EUGENE, Ore. – No. 1 Baylor acrobatics & tumbling advanced to the finals of the NCATA Championships after defeating No. 4-seed Quinnipiac, 273,600 – 269,160, on Friday night in Matthew Knight Arena.

The Bears (10-0) beat the Bobcats (6-4) by 4.44 points to earn their shot at the program’s seventh-straight national championship title.

BU took over QU in every event, although the Bobcats kept the meet close throughout.

Baylor had scores all above a 9.1 in compulsory, highlighted by 9.90 pyramid and toss heats, finishing with a total of 38.60, besting Quinnipiac’s score of 38.30.

In the acro event, Baylor scored a 9.85 in the five and seven elements. In the six-element, BU had a 9,875 for a total score of 29,575 in the event. QU had a total of 29,250 for acro with a 9.7, 9.75 and a 9.80.

For pyramid, the Bears recorded a total of 29,725 for the three heats. In the inversion pyramid, BU had a 9,925 score. In the synchronized heat, Baylor had a 9.85, and in the open heat they were handed a 9.875 score to total 29.65 for the event. The Bobcats scored a 29.15 in the event, with Baylor leading 97.825 to 96.700 at the half.

In the toss event, BU had a 9.55, 9.425 and a 9.775 for a total of 28.75 points. Quinnipiac had a 9.325, 9.20, and 9.425 to score a 27.95. Headed into tumbling, Baylor was up 126,575 to 124,65, leading by 1,925 points.

In tumbling, the Bears scored above a 9.4 in five heats. Emily Tobin had a 9.7 in the six-element pass and Briana Harris scored a 9.85 in the open pass. BU finished with a score of 57.675 while Quinnipiac had a 56.20. Going into the final event of the meet, Baylor was leading 184.25-180.85.

The Bears had a score of 89.35 in the team event to end the meet, bringing the total to 273,600. The Bobcats had a point total of 88.31 from the team event to total 269.16 for the meet.

QUOTABLE – Head coach Felecia Mulkey
“Whew! Feels good. We, yesterday, left a little out there in the second half, and I feel like we improved a little bit, but I do think we left a little out there. I think we’ve got some more points that we can grab tomorrow. But overall, super proud of the team, had a great mindset the whole time. We made some adjustments, they rolled with them, and it paid off.”

QUOTABLE – Senior Briana Harris
“I’m really excited. I feel like I’ve been here for a while. This is my fifth year, but I was really blessed that I was able to come back for another year after being hurt last year. So, I’ m just really excited to be here.”

In addition to competing in the title meet, the Bears will be participating in the individual event finals. The green & gold will compete in 12 of the 15 heats, with start time set for 1 pm CT. The event finals will be streamed on ESPN+.

The Bears face third-seed Gannon for the title with a start time set for 9 pm CT at Matthew Knight Arena. It’s the Golden Knight’s first time competing for an NCATA Championship.

GU upset second-seeded Azusa Pacific on Friday afternoon to earn the program’s first national championship berth. They bested the Cougars 267,345-262,245 to advance. Prior to this season, Gannon had never had a postseason victory.

The Bears and Knights have faced off five times previously, with BU not dropping a meet. The most recent matchup was on March 3, 2020, where Baylor took the victory, 290,650-280,665, with Gannon’s score in the meet being the highest the program ever achieved.

The meet will be streamed on ESPN+ and live scoring can be found on Oregon’s website here.

A full recap and final stats will be made available on after the conclusion of the meet.

To stay up to date throughout the season on all things Baylor acrobatics & tumbling, follow the team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @BaylorAcroTumb.

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