No. 7 Falcons Nip WLU in Acrobatics & Tumbling Thriller

No. 7 Falcons Nip WLU in Acrobatics & Tumbling Thriller

WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. – The much-anticipated battle for first place in the Mountain East Conference's Acrobatics and Tumbling standings went down to the final event here Sunday night with No. 7-ranked Fairmont State edging host West Liberty by a single point, 254.77-253.61, inside the ASRC.

The match was incredibly close throughout. The Falcons (3-0, 3-0) closed out the first half clinging to a slender 92.25-92.05 advantage after the Hilltoppers (3-2, 3-1) took a narrow 29.40-29.10 victory in the Pyramid event.

"We knew this was going to be an incredibly close meet from start to finish," WLU head coach Kelsey Kyle said. "We fully expected to go back and forth with every single event and that's what happened."

Fairmont opened the second half with a 25.55-25.35 win in the Toss event to take a 117.80-117.40 lead into the penultimate Tumbling event. The visitors claimed a 51.50-49.20 win in that event to open up a 169.30-166.60 advantage heading into the final Team event.

But the drama was far from over.

Following the Falcons onto the mat, the Black and Gold delivered one of their best Team event performances of the season and both teams huddled with their coaches to await the final score.

"I got the girls together before Team and asked them to do whatever they needed to do to get ready to win this meet," Kyle said. "I couldn't have asked for a better response. Everything we needed to hit, we hit. Coming off the mat, I really thought we had won."

When the scores were posted, West Liberty had won the Team event, 87.01-85.47. Unfortunately for the hosts, it wasn't quite enough to push them over the top in the final total and Fairmont headed home with the narrow win.

"Obviously we're disappointed we didn't get the win tonight," Kyle said, "but we're even more excited about our chances in the MEC Tournament. My favorite thing about this team is they're never satisfied with what they've done. They're always looking to improve and that's why we're still getting better and looking to peak for the tournament."

As the final home meet of the season, Sunday night was also Senior Night for the WLU Acrobatics & Tumbling program. Via Anderson, Kylee Buzzard and Kira Newburn will be moving on to new challenges after graduation this year while fellow seniors Abbey Bauer, Lexus Ficca and Kenzie Kyle have accepted the NCAA's eligibility waiver for this year and will remain in school to compete for one more season.

"I'm so proud of all six girls," Kyle said. "The three who are moving on all have incredible careers ahead of them and we're really excited about the three who are opting to stay. These six young women are very special to me.

"They've all been here longer than I have. They started this program at West Liberty four years ago and then I came in a couple of years ago and pretty much changed everything they had been used to doing. They totally bought into the program and have been terrific role models and leaders for their teammates every step of the way. Their legacy is going to stay with this program for a very long time."

The WLU women are scheduled to close out the regular season on Wednesday with a 7 p.m. match at Frostburg State, which was rescheduled from an earlier date. The Mountain East Conference Tournament is set for April 9-10 at Fairmont State.

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