Acro & tumbling secures first win of 2023, tops Kutztown by 31 points


Jack Muscatello

Quinnipiac acrobatics and tumbling faces off against Augustana on March 5 for its second meet of the 2023 season.

Jennifer Moglia, Staff Writer

HAMDEN, Conn – Quinnipiac acrobatics and tumbling recorded its first win of the 2023 season and third straight home opener victory Saturday, beating Kutztown 265.390-234.330 and sweeping the Golden Bears in all six events. 

Kutztown’s acrobatics and tumbling program is only in its second season of existence. In 2022, their record was 3-3, losing their first-ever meet to the Bobcats 270.890-139.050 on Feb. 18, 2022. Although the Bears have clearly come a long way since then, it was evident in this meet that they still have a long way to go before they’ll be able to measure up to a program like Quinnipiac.

The Bobcats have been led by head coach Mary Ann Powers for the last 26 seasons and have been nationally ranked in the top ten since 2005. Powers is considered one of the founding members of the NCATA, making her and her squad a force to be reckoned with.

That was the story today: a fledgling team going up against a program with a storied history. As predicted, the veterans showed the rookies how it’s done.

In the first event of the day: compulsory, both teams were clearly on their A-game. Through the first two heats, acro and pyramid, it seemed like an evenly-matched meet.

In the final two heats of the event, toss and tumbling, synchronization is the key to success. While Kutztown’s technique was on point, everyone on the mat for Quinnipiac was in sync with each other, helping the Bobcats pull ahead in scoring. At the end of the first event, the home squad led the Golden Bears, 37.35-33.75.

The separation between the two teams became more evident in the second event: acro. Starting values are assigned to each heat based on difficulty level, but the highest starting value a heat can have is a score of 10.

Quinnipiac’s starting values were generally higher than Kutztown’s, and the Bobcats held things together with poise while the Golden Bears were shaky and out of sync. It was in this event that Quinnipiac freshman top/tumbler Katherine Carter began to stand out.

“She’s fitting in really nicely,” Powers said. “She’s going to be somebody to watch in the future.”

When asked about how she felt she performed in her first collegiate appearance, Carter wasn’t afraid to say that she thought she did well.

“I’m actually really proud of myself in my first meet,” she said. “I obviously have some goals that I’m going to reach for in the future, but I’m really proud of myself as of right now.”

Carter’s success helped lengthen the Bobcats’ lead, as they continued to dominate Kutztown 64.35-57.55 after the second event. They pulled away from the Golden Bears even further in the third event, the pyramid.

Junior top MiaRose King was the standout player in this event, pulling off the first maneuver with grace and stability. Kutztown’s top/tumbler sophomore Tiffani Lincoln also had an impressive showing in this event.

Heading into halftime, the Bobcats led the Golden Bears 94.45-83.3. With over a ten-point lead, it was clear that this meet was Quinnipiac’s for the taking, but the team had to keep their foot on the gas to ensure a victory.

The fourth and fifth events of the day: toss and tumbling, highlight the cheerleading element of acrobatics and tumbling the most. When it was time for the penultimate event, the Bobcats continued to soar past Kutztown, 121.600-107.15.

In the toss and tumbling heats of the compulsory event, staying in sync is important. In the full tumbling event, synchronization is absolutely crucial.

Quinnipiac’s junior base Summer Knoell and junior top Lyndsey Rudolph looked like a well-oiled machine in their duo pass, which was awarded a 9.15 score. The same could be said about Carter, junior base Tiffany Zieba, senior base Bri Marks and junior base/tumbler Farrah Chernov, who worked together excellently to earn an 8.50 in their quad pass.

Chernov faced a unique challenge last season, academically a sophomore but athletically a freshman after the COVID-19 pandemic cut her first campaign short. She showed up in a huge way in 2022, securing accolades including NCATA Specialist of the Week.

It was clear that the sophomore – or junior – slump hadn’t gotten to her, as she consistently pulled off clean passes throughout the tumbling event.

“I do self-talk before I get out on the mat,” Chernov said. “[I say] ‘I’ve got this, I’m capable … it doesn’t matter how many other people believe in me, I have to believe in myself first.”

Her confidence helped the Bobcats hold onto their lead approaching the final event of the meet, the team event. Going into the final event, they led Kutztown 176.25-151.75.

The team event is a choreographed dance routine that showcases all of the skills tested throughout the other events of the meet, prioritizing synchronization. The Golden Bears’ team routine had a starting value of 96.33, a measly number compared to the Bobcats’ starting value of 106.84.

Kutztown’s team event wowed the crowd, with only a few moments where team members struggled to stay in sync. They received a score of 82.58 for the final event.

The Bobcats were in near-perfect unison for the entire team event, and the strength of bases like sophomore Hallie Fowler helped carry them to victory. The only glaring issue was one pyramid group that fell to the floor towards the end of the event.

When asked what she’ll be working on with her team before the next meet, head coach Powers emphasized “making sure that pig pile doesn’t happen in the team routine over there.”

“That was scary,” Powers said of the error. “That didn’t happen during practice. That was an adrenaline thing for me, I’ll go back and look at the tape.”

One stumble wasn’t enough to rain on the Bobcats’ parade, as they left M&T Bank Arena with a 265.39-234.33 victory. The team members were happy to get the first win under their belt, and although they have a long road ahead before they can attempt to get championship redemption, they’re taking things slow.

“We have to take it meet-by-meet, skill-by-skill, we can’t rush ahead of ourselves,” Chernov said. 

If one thing is even more solidified than this team’s imminent success, it’s the sisterly bond that connects all of the athletes and their coaches. Powers, along with multiple players, emphasized the family-like feeling that exists in the locker room every day.

“You witness the sisterhood. They work in close proximity to each other every single practice, so they get really close,” Powers said. “It’s up to the coaches to make sure we get the culture part right.”

The squad will look to jump off the mental and physical momentum as they will be back in action at home on Sunday, March 5, at 1 p.m. against Augustana.