UO Acro: The 3-Time National Champs You Didn’t Know Existed

2013 acro team throwing full baskets at practice.

Quick, name the UO sport that features double-downs, back-tuck baskets, twist double fulls, scorpions and kick doubles (hint: it’s not gymnastics, skiing/snowboarding, cheer or dance).  Figured it out yet?  UO is the reigning national champions.  Getting closer?  For those who are new to these incredible acts, this terminology relates to just one sport: Acrobatics and Tumbling, also known as the Acro Team.  Acro is a relatively new sport at the college level that has recently become popular across the states at various universities.  The sport has obvious roots in both gymnastics and competitive cheerleading.

Acro teams are made up of female athletes, and these teams compete against one another through a series of different rounds.  These differing rounds include: compulsory, acrobatics, tumbling, pyramid, toss and team routine.  Each athlete on the team is skilled in gymnastics, stunts and performing to the audience.  These tasks have been neglected by the sports world for too long.  Up until the last few years many never considered cheerleading to be a sport.  Well, these girls of the UO Acro team have proven that it, in fact, is.

Showing off their ability to toss double downs (2013 practice)

Gary Breedlove

Showing off their
ability to toss double downs (2013 practice).

Although the sport may be technically hard for many to follow, considering its relative youth, competitions are extremely exciting.  Add to this excitement the fact that the University of Oregon Acrobatics and Tumbling team is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation from a group of ten other competing schools including: Adrian College, Alderson-Broaddus College, Azusa Pacific University, Baylor University, Fairmont State University, Gannon University, Hawaii Pacific University, King College, Quinnipiac University and UMass-Dartmouth.  Much the same as with many sports programs at the University of Oregon, the Acrobatics and Tumbling team has proven to be one of the best squads in the country, and the team to watch.

As of now, Ducks Acro is 9-1 after a recent loss to Azusa Pacific.  Fortunately, the Ducks earned a spot in the NCATA (National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association) Championships that will take place today and run through Saturday.  This will be the ladies’ fourth run at the championship title, having already won the previous three.  The future looks bright for the women of Acro.

Showing strength by tossing back tuck baskets many feet in the air (2013 practice)

Gary Breedlove

Showing strength by tossing back tuck baskets many feet in the air (2013 practice).

Head Coach Felicia Mulkey and the Ducks will head back to Azusa Pacific to defend their national title.  Individual events will take place Thursday, April 24, and feature competitors from all teams.  The quarter finals take place on Friday.  On that day, the Ducks will go head-to-head against the winner of Thursday’s match between Alderson-Broaddus and King College.  The championships conclude Saturday with semi-finals occurring at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., followed by the finals that night at 7:30 p.m.

The Ducks are 41-3 in all NCATA competitions to date, and ended the 2014 regular season with a 9-1 record.  This record, along with their top national ranking, make Oregon’s Acrobatics and Tumbling team the odds-on favorites to repeat as NCATA Champions.  And given all their hard work and determination, the Ducks do have a great chance to once again dominate the championships.  It will be exciting to see if the girls can bring home yet another national championship.

Video: UO Acro Goes for Three-Peat

Top photo by Gary Breedlove

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Kerry Merrill

Kerry Merrill

Kerry is currently a Freshman at the University of Oregon and is studying to major in Cinema Studies with a minor in Journalism. She is from Los Angeles. She grew up watching and observing sports, basketball being her favorite. Kerry has been a cheerleader her entire life and loves being a part of the spirit of the game.