Ranked eighth in the nation and looking toward a strong performance in the national championship meet in California, the Gannon University acrobatics and tumbling team faced off against Quinnipiac University and Hawaii Pacific in its final two meets of the regular season.
The first of the two, the Quinnipiac meet, took place in the Hammermill Center on April 8. Taking on the nation’s third-ranked team, Gannon fell in a close contest by less than eight points. The Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference matchup featured a range of emotions and strong efforts by all the athletes.
Even with the strong performances, this match featured a more important cause than just the contest and the winner or loser of the match. The contest featured a partnership with the Linked by Pink organization that advocates for Breast Cancer Awareness.
In the midst of this important cause, the Knights posted impressive performances across the board, but they were unable to knock off the Bobcats, falling 279.64-266.130.
In the toss event, Chelsea Cowan, Andrew Cygan, Elizabeth Martin, Cassidy Jelen, Hayley Nejman and Ciara Rand brought home a first-place finish, scoring 9.35 points out of 9.9 possible points.
Another strong performance came from the tumbling event — trio pass. Gina Pergolizzi, Nejman and Brenna Schuler represented Gannon, and together they combined to score 8.90 points out of a possible 9.55.
However, despite these strong performances, the Knights came up short.
After the close and disheartening loss, the Knights quickly shifted focus toward their final meet of the regular season against fourth-ranked Hawaii Pacific. The match took place in Kaneohe, Hawaii, on April 14.
Despite the back-to-back matches in less than a week against top 5 teams, the hearts of the competitors did not waver and they gave their full efforts in competition.
The Knights won two heats and tied another but fell to Hawaii Pacific, which has only lost one match all season, by a final score of 284.745-274.240.
Odds were stacked against Gannon as the Knights started competition at midnight Eastern Time and the team was still adjusting to jetlag.
The tumbling event trio pass against came out victorious in this meet featuring Pergolizzi, Nejman and Schuler.
Along with the trio pass, the toss event athletes also posted a win. Michaela Soper, Nikki Pizzi, Martin, Jelen and Nejman came together for the victory.
This is the third consecutive meet in which the Knights have won the trio pass, and they have won the event in five-of-six competitions overall this season.
The team now looks forward to the championships in Azusa, California, beginning Thursday and continuing through Saturday.
Gannon, seeded seventh among eight teams, will first take on No. 2 Baylor at 3 p.m. Thursday.
Friday’s semifinals will take place at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. and Saturday’s finals will begin at 1 p.m.