This article originally appeared in ZU News.
The acrobatics and tumbling team starts their season on Tuesday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. in the Felix Event Center with a home meet against rival Hawai’i Pacific.
Last year the Cougars lost against Hawai’i Pacific twice in the regular season before beating them in the postseason.
Head coach Colleen Kausrud said that these games have created a rivalry.
“Against them we lose or win by tenths of points. When it’s that close, it could be one step that makes us lose. Because we’ve beaten them by so little and lost by so little, it makes them even more of a rival,” Kausrud said. “We’re looking forward to watching the talent of the girls, watching the confidence come out. They have it and that’s something we want to see. We’re excited about a good competition.”
The team will have six meets throughout the season. Hawai’i Pacific is the only school that APU will face twice.
“It’s nice because you can either beat them twice or have revenge if you lost the first time. We want to beat them twice in the regular season,” assistant coach Kara Meier said.
The team has eight seniors including top Jamie Nolta, who admits that she’s excited for the season to start.
“I’m looking forward to just being out on the mat with my teammates for the first time. The first meet is always exciting for us to show off our new skills,” Nolta said. “I’m excited to win against them and prove that what happened in championships last year wasn’t a fluke.”
Nolta said she’s loved getting to grow alongside her teammates all four years.
“It’s cool that we have so many seniors. I feel like we’re the first class that’s stayed together all four years,” Nolta said. “We all know each other so well and like working together. We know our strengths and weaknesses and can play into those. We trust each other a lot and can lead the team as a group.”
As big as the senior class on the team is, the freshmen actually outnumber them, with nine total freshmen on the team.
Senior base Ashleigh Pitts said that she’s enjoyed getting to work with the freshmen so far.
“It’s fun getting to know new people and speak life into them in different ways and hang out with them outside of practice,” Pitts said. “It’s crazy that they are the future of acro and tumbling. We get to teach them the hard things, like how to balance acro and school.”
Meier said that coaching the freshmen has been challenging but exciting.
“It’s nice to have a big class since we have eight seniors graduating. We’re grooming those freshmen to fill some big roles once those seniors leave. Just trying to groom the talent and manage it and keep them looking forward to the future even if they’re not starting this year,” Meier said.
Pitts said that she’s excited to see how the season plays out. Last year, the team went 3-5 in the regular season, but a win-loss record isn’t what really matters to Pitts.
“I would define success as looking at progression, seeing how far we’ve come from where we were in August, or just building lifelong relationships and things that go deeper than just Acro,” Pitts said. “When I think of our meets, I don’t think of wins and losses, I think of the relationships I made and the fun days we had.”
After Hawaii Pacific, the Cougars will head out to Wisconsin to face off against Concordia (Wis.) on Feb. 12.