no. 2 A&T Secures Sixth-Straight National Title

by Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Insider

at times, Felicia Mulkey forgot that her sophomores never got to this point a year ago and her freshmen had never been.
Not only did they get there, they won it all. . . again.
Winning all six events, second-seeded Baylor acrobatics & tumbling won its sixth-consecutive NCATA national championship by beating top-seeded Azusa Pacific, 279.790-276.465, Friday night at the Ferrell Center as the freshmen and sophomores got to celebrate the same way fifth -year senior Camryn Bryant had already done three times.
“We all pushed each other to our limits,” Bryant said. “The upperclassmen relied on the sophomore and freshman class a lot, and they came through. We call came through. . . . That confetti hit, and we were all just celebrating and screaming.”
In what’s become an all-too-familiar scene for the Bears (6-1), green and gold confetti was sprayed all over the Ferrell Center floor and the celebration began.
“It feels absolutely amazing to go through the season and top it off like this,” said Dayandrea Thompson, one of six seniors.
“I don’t think anybody understands,” said Mulkey, who has now won all 10 NCATA national championships, including the first four at Oregon. “The sigh of relief to get to this point is unbelievable. I know it is on these guys. I know it has been on our coaching staff, just to get here and be at the championship, get to have a season. There were so many times we thought we wouldn’t be able to compete at all.”
Azusa Pacific certainly didn’t make it easy. Despite winning just one heat through the first three events, the Cougars (4-1) trailed by just over a point at the halfway mark of the meet, 98.075-96.925.
“AP was awesome, and they just kept bringing it, kept bringing it,” Mulkey said. “With my coach hat on, no, I don’t want anybody to be close to us. But, with the sport hat on, that’s what we need. . . . it’s fun to be pushed, because you go into that next event , and you have to execute. And it was good to see. APU, they had a fantastic meet today.”
After winning the first two heats in toss, the Cougars had a slip-up in the open heat and had a narrow loss in toss, 28,975-28,675.
In one of the closest tumbling events they’ve had all year, the Bears lost two of the six heats and only had one score over 9,800. That came from junior Mercy Seay in the six-element heat (9,950), who chest-bumped assistant coach Kelsey Rowell coming off the mat and then lifted up Mulkey after sprinting to the other end of the floor.
“Mercy is capable of such big scores,” Mulkey said. “When she comes out of that full punch front, and that full-and-a-half is so high that you can walk under it, you know you’re in business. That’s where she was tonight.”
Leading by less than 2.0 points, Baylor capped it with a solid team event, outscoring the Cougars, 94.790-93.290, to clinch the national championship.
“We didn’t have a perfect team event tonight, so we talked about what that could mean . . . and how we would hand it if it didn’t go our way,” Mulkey said. “If it didn’t go our way, and APU scored higher than us, how they deserved it and how we would handle that. We win and lose with integrity, so those are the conversations we have in that moment.”
Since it did go their way, the Bears got to celebrate like they did in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. But, after last year’s meet was canceled because of COVID-19, this was just a little more special.
“This one felt a little bit different than years past,” Bryant said. “Because of COVID, I came back for this year, and I wanted this team to make it to another level. And we sure did.”

WACO, Texas — The Baylor acrobatics and tumbling team won its sixth-straight national championship on Friday night at the Ferrell Center after defeating No. 1 Azusa Pacific 279,790-276,465 in the 2021 NCATA National Championship Final. The Bears (6-1) have won every championship since head coach Felicia Mulkey joined the program, as she has now won her 10th career title as a head coach.

To begin the night, Baylor scraped by in the compulsory event, outscoring Azusa 38.825-38.400. BU took the acro event 29,750-29,075 after earning scores of 9,975, 9,850, and 9,925.

In the pyramid event, the Bears outscored the Cougars 29,500-29,450 as this was the closest margin of victory of the meet. Going into halftime, Baylor was ahead 98,075-96,925.

After the break, Baylor took the toss event 28.975-28.675 and then in tumbling, BU outscored Azusa Pacific 57.950-57.575. Junior Mercy Seay earned a 9,950 in her six-element pass and sophomore Tori Harriso earned a 9,800 in her open pass.

Baylor prevailed in the team event, scoring a 94,790, while Azusa Pacific scored a 93,290, as the Bears secured the national championship.

QUOTE FROM COACH MULKEY

“I just think they’re unshakeable. Azusa Pacific was awesome and they just kept bringing it and kept bringing it. These guys were eerily calm before the meet. I asked them, ‘Is this eerily calm? What am I seeing here?’ And they were just ready to go. I couldn’t be more proud of them, they came in and cleaned some things up, even from yesterday. enough. They’re a team and they’re just unshakeable. It doesn’t matter who’s standing across the mat, they’re just going to go out and execute the way they need to execute.”

For updates on the program, follow @BaylorAcroTumb on Twitter and Instagram and @BaylorAcrobaticsandTumbling on Facebook.

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