The reigning back-to-back-to-back national champion and preseason No. 1 Baylor acrobatics & tumbling team starts off its 2018 National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association (NCATA) season at home against the No. 8 Alderson Broaddus Battlers on Sunday, Feb. 4, at the Ferrell Center at 1:30 p.m. CT.
Last season, the Bears posted a 9-1 record, beating the Oregon Ducks in the championship for the third straight year. Baylor is now 30-1 under head coach Felecia Mulkey, including 9-0 in the NCATA national championships. The Bears last matchup against the Battlers occurred on March 6, 2016, with the Bears winning 271.960-260.660. The 2018 Bears will have 12 newcomers in addition to the 25 returning letterwinners from the 2017 NCATA championship squad.
“We have a really tight-knit senior group,” said Mulkey. “They were freshmen when I came in, so I didn’t recruit them. They inherited me. They bought in as freshmen, which really made this transition easier. And now, they protect the program. They’re all selfless leaders. It makes it easier for the freshmen to buy in when the seniors are bought in as well.”
Sunday’s meet will also feature a familiar face for Mulkey as the Battlers’ head coach Brandi Hanford was on Baylor’s A&T team from 2012-15 and helped the Bears win their first national title in her lone season under Mulkey in 2015.
“I think she’s done a great job,” said Mulkey of her former player. “It’s always hard to take over a program and implement your philosophy, but it looks like she’s doing really great. It should be a good meet. Their roster is a little bit smaller than ours, but they’re a very good team.”
A&T meets consist of six events: Compulsory, Acro, Pyramid, Toss, Tumbling and Team Routine. Teams compete in a predetermined rotation order throughout each event. Events are immediately scored by officials and overall standings are displayed on the scoreboard.