Duck hunting: Quinnipiac acrobatics and tumbling heads to Oregon with national championship aspirations

Cameron Levasseur, Sports Editor

What do a Bobcat, Valkyrie and St. Bernard have in common? They’re all heading west with the hopes of bringing home a national championship.

For the 10th time in 11 seasons, No. 4 Quinnipiac acrobatics and tumbling will compete in the NCATA national championships, facing off against No. 5 Oregon, the tournament host, in a quarterfinal matchup on April 28, in Eugene, Oregon.

Baylor, Azusa Pacific, Gannon, Limestone, Fairmount State and Converse round out the eight teams making the trip to the Beaver State.

It’s the first time since 2019 that the Bobcats have had the opportunity to vie for a national title, with COVID-19 causing the cancellation of the 2020 tournament as well as Quinnipiac’s entire 2021 season.

“It’s such an honor to be able to represent Quinnipiac out in Oregon,” senior base Asia Johnson said. “It’s been a long two years … but I think we’re all super stoked to just be going out there and be able to put our best foot forward to show what we’ve been doing for the last two years.”                                                                                                

The road to the NCATA crown won’t be easy. In the 10 seasons since its formation, only two teams — Oregon and Baylor — have won national championships. Assuming No. 1 Baylor — the six-time reigning national champion — advances to the semifinal round, the Bobcats will have to beat both schools to even make the title meet.

“We just have to recognize that they’re going to put their best stuff out there,” senior base Kyla Roberts said. “So we just need to do the same and enjoy the moment and just put everything on the mat.”

But if recent history is any indication, Quinnipiac has the advantage heading into its matchup with Oregon. The Bobcats held off the Ducks earlier this month when the two teams met in Hamden, sweeping all but the team event, where Oregon’s two-point victory wasn’t enough to claw back on the overall scoreboard.

It was only Quinnipiac’s second victory in 12 meetings with the Ducks all time, the other coming back in 2018.

“Our first meet with Oregon, we had the mindset of there’s nothing to lose,” Johnson said. “We spent a lot of time talking about the years we didn’t compete and just showing off the Quinnipiac game, so that first meet was definitely putting our best foot forward and being the best version of ourselves.”

Baylor has also made the trip to the People’s United Center this season. Unlike Oregon, however, the Bears left victorious.

Despite Quinnipiac’s loss, the 280.685 points put up by the Bobcats in their matchup with the defending champs is the most the team has scored since a 282.860 point performance against Azusa Pacific in 2018. That season ended with a national championship meet appearance for the Bobcats.

Connor Lawless

If Quinnipiac is going to make some noise, it will likely come in part to graduate student top/base Cassidy Osher. Osher, the 2019 ECAC Specialist of the Year, led the Bobcats in that April 3, victory over Oregon, outscoring the Ducks in seven of eight individual heats en route to her second straight NCATA weekly honorable mention.

Sophomore base Farrah Chernov is another name to watch out for. The Manalapan, New Jersey, native earned NCATA specialist of the week honors when the Bobcats met Baylor on March 23, scoring highly in eight events, including a perfect “10” in the open pyramid, to push the Bears to the brink.

Ultimately, when the bright lights come on in Matthew Knight Arena, Quinnipiac will be ready to show what they’ve been working toward the past two years. 

“The work ethic has been insane the past two weeks,” Johnson said.  “The energy at practice has been up through the roof.”