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Oregon A&T Completes Historic NCATA Four-Peat
Release Date: 04/26/2014
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AZUSA, Calif. – In a grudge match and battle between the field’s top two seeds, Oregon won a fourth consecutive NCATA National Championship against Azusa Pacific with the second-highest meet score in NCATA history. The top-seeded Ducks defeated the host Cougars, 290.825-282.600, at the Felix Event Center, Saturday to seal a historic championship four-peat.

In front of a crowd of 2,088 fans, head coach Felecia Mulkey’s Ducks (12-1) avenged an earlier loss to the Cougars (7-3) by winning its third meet in the span of two days. Since the NCATA’s inception four seasons ago, the Ducks have posted a 43-3 overall record while winning four national championships, 30 event titles, 11 All-America honors, two athlete of the year accolades, a newcomer of the year honor and a coach of the year award.

Oregon opened the NCATA National Championship by winning six event titles with three student-athletes being named All-Americans on Thursday. The Ducks opened the team competition on Friday, defeating eighth-seeded Alderson Broaddus. UO reached the finals by topping fourth-seeded Baylor by 6.3 points this morning. Against the Cougars in the finals, Oregon won five-of-six events and posted its best score of the season by over four points.

"I've been saying that we haven't peaked yet all season," said Mulkey. "Today, we peaked. It couldn't have gone any better for us today. The team was so ready for this and they weren't going to be denied. Before the final scores were announced, they felt like they had the meet that they wanted."

In a tri-meet earlier this season on March 10, Oregon handed APU its first loss by a 280.580-278.360 margin. The Cougars returned the favor on April 7 in the regular season finale, winning at home to snap UO’s incredible 25-meet unbeaten streak and end the Ducks’ win streak at 31. With Azusa Pacific as the hosts and both squads grabbing the top two seeds, the 2014 NCATA National Championship set the dynastic Ducks and rising power Azusa Pacific on a collision course.

Both teams won three meets over the course of two days to prove their merit as the top seeds, setting the stage for a rubber match in the finals.

With two perfect 10 scores in the compulsory round, Oregon jumped out to an early lead that they would maintain until the very end. Oregon never trailed in either three meets at the championships this weekend. UO used perfect scores on the pyramid and toss heats to post a 39.25 on compulsory, taking a .35 lead into the next round.

Both teams tallied the same score in all three acro heats – 9.85, 9.85 and 9.75 – to tie with a team score of 29.45 on the event.

After a perfect score in compulsory tumbling, Oregon didn’t get a deduction in two pyramid heats to win the event with a near-perfect score of 29.95 – the second-straight meet with that score. At halftime, Oregon led by the slim margin of 98.65-96.90.

Azusa Pacific won the toss event – its lone event win of the meet – to tighten the score before the meet’s final two events. With scores of 9.80, 9.75 and 9.85, Oregon posted a 29.4 on toss compared to a 29.55 from the Cougars.

Nicole Erlichman, the NCATA’s Most Outstanding Athlete Award winner, scored a perfect 10 on her six-element tumbling pass as Oregon continued to shine on the event. The Ducks defeated APU, 59.325-58.500 on the event. Erlichman’s six-element pass earned a perfect score in every NCATA National Championship meet this season. Three-time All-American Tara Lubert also scored a 9.975 in the open pass. UO also received scores of 9.95 in the aerial pass, 9.9 in quad pass, 9.8 in duo and 9.7 in triple.

Entering the final event of the night, the team routine, Oregon led by nearly two and a half points. The Cougars went first, earning a 97.650 score in its routine. UO needed to score just a 95.226 to clinch the title, but the Ducks smashed that mark to erase any doubt. Oregon’s team routine earned a 103.450, and with that, a celebration ensued on the mat.

Oregon’s senior class of Erin Block, Zakia Houston, Natasha Katzaroff, Kelsey Leslie and McKenzie Wilcox will graduate as four-time national champions. Moving forward, Mulkey will return 32 student-athletes, including three All-Americans, for the 2015 campaign.

"It couldn't happen to a better group of kids," said Mulkey. "They've done so much in providing chemistry and leadership for this team. They led the team so selflessly the entire season and they are the season we peaked at the right time."

2014 NCATA National Championship

Thursday, April 24
#8 Alderson Broaddus (257.550) def. #9 King (220.985)
Individual Event Finals

Friday, April 25 (Quarterfinals)
#4 Baylor (276.920) def. #5 Fairmont State (267.170)
#1 Oregon (285.050) def. #8 Alderson Broaddus (266.450)
#3 Quinnipiac (280.740) def.  #6 Hawai‘i Pacific (279.665)
#2 Azusa Pacific (283.225) def.  #7 Gannon (263.300)

Saturday, April 26 (Semifinals)
Oregon (286.600) def. Baylor (280.295)
Azusa Pacific (284.725) def. Quinnipiac (278.140)

NCATA National Championship
Oregon (290.825) def. Azusa Pacific (282.600)

(Oregon acrobatics and tumbling accomplishments since the NCATA’s inception)

NCATA National Champions
12-1 overall record
6 event titles
3 All-Americans
1 Most Outstanding Athlete Award winner (Nicole Erlichman)

NCATA National Champions
8-0 overall record
12 event titles
4 All-Americans
1 Performer of the Year (Tara Lubert)

NCATA National Champions
11-0 overall record
6 event titles
3 All-Americans
1 Newcomer of the Year (Tara Lubert)

NCATA National Champions
8-1 overall record
6 event titles
1 All-American
1 Coach of the Year (Felicia Mulkey)

QUOTES: Head coach Felecia Mulkey

On her thoughts on the meet and winning a fourth straight title…
“I’ve been saying all year that we haven’t peaked yet, and we definitely peaked today. It couldn’t have been any better. This team was so ready and they weren’t going to be denied today. We made some changes to grab extra points here and there, and they peaked in those today. It worked out exactly how we planned.”

On the post-meet celebration…
“We were all excited and ecstatic. In our semifinal this morning, we had a great meet and were excited about how we performed. They just wanted to go out and do that again, and they absolutely did that. Before the final score was announced, the girls felt like they had the meet they wanted and from there it was up to the judges.”

On her senior class going out as four-time national champions…
“There are five of them, and it couldn’t happen to a better group of kids. They’ve done some much in terms of providing chemistry and leadership for this team. They led so selflessly the entire season, and they are the reason we peaked at the right time. I couldn’t be happier for them.”

On Nicole Erlichman’s three consecutive perfect 10 scores in her six-element pass…
“She’s just a great all-around athlete. She gets a lot of accolades for that pass because she does so consistently well on it, but she also helped us get a 9.9 in our quad pass and is the top on one of our acro heats. She is just a phenomenal athlete. She shows up on meet day.”

On the tournament and the state of the sport…
‘This weekend was terrific. I had a surreal moment at the event finals seeing all these athletes from all over compete, be successful and live their dream. We came a long way as a sport this season. The crowd was terrific in Azusa as well. We had 2,000 fans at hand for the finals. It was a very fun week for us all.”

On the future of Oregon acrobatics and tumbling…
“I feel very confident with this program. I wanted our freshmen and sophomores to have an ending like this because they are the future of the program. They can learn from this and pass it along. Our seniors did a good job of doing that this season. I think we are in a great spot and we have a great core group moving forward. We’ll be stronger next year, believe it or not.”

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