Acrobatics & Tumbling
Acrobatics and Tumbling will start their season with two consecutive matches against Hawaii Pacific, the first at home on Feb. 13 and the second in Hawaii on Feb. 24.
These first two matches will be tough, but head coach Colleen Kausrud believes that her team is fully capable of winning both matches. Kausrud also described this team as one of the most talented that she has ever coached.
“Going into Hawaii Pacific will be a challenge, but will build great confidence if we beat them,” Kausrud said.
These matches will be important, as the Cougars finished in fifth place while Hawaii Pacific was the team to edge them out and finish in fourth place at the 2016 NCATA National Championships.
This team is also a lot younger than last year’s, with only two seniors on the squad. With eight juniors to follow, the other 14 athletes on the team are underclassmen. Yet the coaches are not concerned about the team’s youth.
“This team has a lot more unity than past teams, and they really want each other to succeed,” assistant coach Kara Meier said.
The expectations are high, as this is a very confident and deep tumbling team that gives them the ability to do more things.
The APU baseball team will travel north to face Cal State Monterey Bay for three consecutive games from Feb. 2-4 to open their season. They return nearly all of their starting players, with the exception of a couple of starting pitchers, so they are looking to improve their pitching game.
“We have to go into that weekend trying to win. We’re going to have a lot of guys pitching in Monterey,” head coach Paul Svagdis said.
Several pitchers will be vying for the open starting spots next week. Svagdis emphasized the significance of winning early after starting out 4-8 last year. The team turned their season around and finished with a 30-20 record. They had one of the top offenses in the conference, but one of the lowest ranked pitching staffs. Svagdis was proud of how the team finished the season.
“Success for me is how they handle the bumps in the road and the adverse moments. Can we overcome a player getting hurt or a bad weekend and bounce back? I want to see us overcome those things,” Svagdis said.
The rain from the past few weeks was both an obstacle and an opportunity the team faced.
“The rain created a natural challenge for us as a group. It caused us to get back to the fundamentals of baseball,” Svagdis said. “Maybe it was a blessing in disguise to get us back to where we need to be at the beginning of the season.”
The Cougars’ softball team will begin their season in Las Vegas for the Desert Stinger Tournament, where they will play against three different teams on Feb. 3, and two more teams on Feb. 4. This will be the first time they haven’t had any games prior to the tournament.
“I’m expecting the girls to go out with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of excitement, knowing that they are defending their [Conference] championship season from last year,” head coach Carrie Webber said. “It’s a fun and exciting tournament, there are a lot of teams there and you want to make a strong impression when you walk out onto that field.”
After winning the PacWest Conference last season and finishing 40-12, the Cougars will look to defend that title with a younger team. There are only four seniors on the 18-woman roster.
“That’s a big change for us, we have to have time to grow, but we have to make sure that this growing time happens real fast,” Webber said.
After the tournament, the Cougars will come back home to play two games against Saint Martin’s on Feb. 6, and two more against Biola on Feb. 7.
The men’s and women’s tennis season starts on Feb. 3 at home against San Diego Christian College. Men’s tennis looks to go to nationals for the 22nd consecutive year, with a few new players.
“I’m looking forward to seeing some of the new players play, see what they’ve improved on. We start with a lot of conference teams, I look forward to that,” head coach Mark Bohren said.
The team has three seniors representing in Pascal Engel, Sasha Kingsley and Shepherd Newcomb. Engel and Newcomb are ranked 7th and 15th respectively in the West Region. Also ranked in the top 10 in the West are Oliver Frank (1st) and Christian Schmidt (4th). They all played in the national championship last year.
“We want to compete for a national championship, we want our players to have a good experience and to get better every day,” Bohren said. “It should be a good exciting season, both teams are ready to go.”
The women’s water polo team will be traveling to Providence, RI on Feb. 4-5 to open their season at the Brown Invitational. In Julie Snodgrass’ six years as the head coach of the water polo team, this is her first time taking the team anywhere farther than Arizona.
“I’m excited for the adventure. It will be good to play the east coast Division I competition,” Snodgrass said.
Snodgrass is eager for a better season, after a finish last year with the top offense, but the lowest performing defense in the conference. She noted that the team was working on improving their defense.
“We have a high-powered offense but we need to hone our defense more,” Snodgrass said. “We have good talent across the board. We have depth.”
The team has several returners including All-American Britt Harris, and team expectations are high.
“I expect the team to come together really well and perform at a level higher than they have in years past,” Snodgrass said.
The Cougars will play their first two home games on Feb. 18 against Cal State Northridge and Pomona-Pitzer.