Sophomore Dani Cockrell looks into the faces of the crowd at the Felix Event Center. The observers filling the stands are no different than any others — except their faces are upside down.
Cockrell watches from over 15 feet in the air as she does a handstand on the leg of another girl who is also hoisted into the air.
The Acrobatics and Tumbling team finally brought in a win against the Quinnipiac Wildcats, but they fell to the Fairmont State Falcons in a three-way meet on Wednesday, March 13, bringing the team’s record to 1-3.
The meet started strong for the Cougars when they won two out of four heats in the first event. APU tied with Fairmont, and both teams earned 36.55 points.
After the second event, the Cougars pulled ahead of the Falcons due to their incredible performance in acrobatics, winning two out of the three heats.
Cockrell, who has only competed in the team event (the sixth and last event) this season, experienced her first time participating in the acro event.
“I was really nervous this time, but my coach knows that I’m kind of a showoff when it comes to stuff,” Cockrell said. “So she said, ‘Dani, just calm down and show off.’ So, I did it and it was like the most amazing feeling ever and I could not calm down.”
During the pyramid event, the Cougars scored well, but Quinnipiac prevailed in all three heats. Though APU’s pyramid score came in second to Quinnipiac, the Cougars still held the highest overall score.
After halftime, APU continued to deliver and won two out of the three toss heats and still held their lead against the other two teams. This meet’s toss event was the Cougar’s best of the season, Cockrell said.
After the fourth heat, however, the Cougars’ lead on Fairmont slipped, and they weren’t able to defeat the Falcons in the end. Even with the loss, however, junior Madi Velling believed the team performed to the best of their ability.
“That was actually one of our strongest meets so far,” Velling said. “Everyone was really cohesive and were working together. We really felt like we were doing well up to that point.”
According the Cockrell, the Cougars’ defeat can be attributed to adversity in practice the night before.
“It was really hard for our team because we had a lot of issues yesterday in practice,” Cockrell said. “This was the first time we had ever run the routine with these people. So, I feel good about how we pulled it off even though it wasn’t perfect.”
During the tumbling event, the Cougars did not win any heats, but the sixth heat was a personal victory for junior Nicole Shook. In the heat, Shook stuck her pass and scored only .2 behind Quinnipiac’s winning tumbling score.
“I was really excited because I hadn’t practiced it in a week and I kind of threw it together the day before,” Shook said. “It was pretty exciting for me because it wasn’t as consistent as I would have liked it in practice, and it felt really great to just be able to go full out. It felt good to be able to stick it and know that I helped my team.”
The final team event confirmed that Fairmont would win the meet, with APU and Quinnipiac behind.
“I’m really proud of us,” Shook said. “We pulled together as a team and became one.”
The next meet is away against Oregon on Tuesday, April 2. APU lost to Oregon last time the teams faced off, but the team is looking forward to the competition.
“We feel really strong, even though there are some challenges we’ve had to face,” Velling said. “We have a lot of work ahead of us these next couple weeks, and we need to improve, but we have to go up from here.”