Acrobatics and Tumbling prepares for another exciting season

West Liberty’s acrobatics and tumbling team is in full swing preparation mode for the 2022 season. Head Coach Kelsey Kyle’s Lady Toppers were seeded No. 1 in the Mountain East Conference preseason coach’s poll. The ladies first meet of the season is on Monday, Feb. 14 at Davis and Elkins College.

This is the WLU acrobatics and tumbling program’s fourth year competing in the NCAA competition and Kyle’s third year leading the squad. The Lady Toppers polled in the No. 1 spot in the MEC preseason poll with four first-place votes and a total of 34 points, narrowly beating out their main conference rivals Fairmont State University. Fairmont earned the other three first place votes and had 33 points total. The polls suggest a very tight competition may be in store between the two top seeded schools in the Mountain East.

The rest of the voting saw Frostburg State University place third with 24 points, followed by Glenville State College (18 points), West Virginia Wesleyan College (17 points), Davis and Elkins College (12 points) and Alderson Broaddus University (six points).

At the end of January, the team was ranked No. 11 in the nation with 108 points in the National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association’s (NCATA) annual preseason coaches’ poll. This is the highest rank yet for West Liberty’s young program. “We are very excited, but now we have to prove that we are the best in the conference and can be ranked even higher nationally,” said Kyle. WLU was one of three MEC teams to earn a place in the top 15 with Fairmont coming in at No. 8 and Frostburg claiming the fifteenth spot.

Last year, the Lady Toppers closed their season with an overall record of 4-3. WLU finished as MEC runners up in the Conference Tournament championship losing in a hard-fought match with a score of 262.725-257.035 against the Fighting Falcons.

Kyle said, “I was very happy with last season as a whole. We accomplished a lot of team goals and broke school records. We finished the season as MEC runner ups. The team battled a lot of adversity during the end of the season. Due to COVID, we had to make a lot of changes going into the MEC tournament. I was happy with how they competed, but I know that we can do even better this year.”

The WLU team has almost all of last year’s roster returning for the 2022 season including graduate student Kenzie Kyle, senior Lexus Ficca, and junior Sydney Schumacher who were named to the All-MEC first-team last season. Last year’s success has given the squad a strong base to work from. “I think the seniors are all really focused on making this year special and their best one yet,” said Kyle.

The experienced squad also has some new fresh faces in the mix who are expected to make a strong impact. “We have a lot of freshmen really stepping up this season. You will especially see some of them stand out in the tumbling event,” said Kyle.

The long preseason for acrobatics and tumbling has its cons, but it has also allowed the team to try out a variety of options and routines, pin down the finer details and learn a variety of new skills. Kyle said, “We’ve been practicing since August, so now that we are finally so close to meet season, it is like everyone can see the light at the end of the tunnel and we are all fired up and so excited to get started.”

The Lady Toppers’ first home competition is on Thursday, Feb. 17 in the ASRC at 6 p.m.. It will be the first time since the outbreak of COVID-19 that fans will be allowed to support the team in person. “We competed our entire season last year without spectators,” said Kyle. “I am so excited to fill the ASRC with our supporters and show them everything that we have been working on.”

Show support for the Lady Toppers by cheering them on at home and following the team on Twitter. Check out Hilltopper Sports for a full schedule.