AU STUNT gears up for trip to Dallas for national tournament

With an overall record of 13-4, they sit as the No. 3 seeded team in Division II


Mike Hopkins

The Eagles celebrate and thank the fans that attended the GMAC championship in Kates Gymnasium.

Cade Cracas, Sports & Digital Editor

Once again, the Eagle Faithful has another team that they’ll have to follow to Dallas; the Ashland University STUNT team.

After the women’s basketball team took home a Division II national championship to start April, the STUNT team will have an opportunity to do the same at the end of the month. They head into the tournament as the No. 3 seed in all of Division II.

“This is our first appearance at the National level and we want to represent AU as best as possible,” said Head Coach Denise Farnsworth, who was named Great Midwest Athletic Conference (GMAC) Coach of the Year. “I am expecting the team to be focused and give it 110% at all times.  We are excited to use this opportunity to gain some great experience and learn from the other teams that we’ll face.”

The Eagles finished the 2022-23 regular season on top of the conference, winning the GMAC championship, 22-3, over the Hiram College Terriers. That win capped off a 13-4 season, the program’s best since its creation before the 2020-21 academic year.

“This season has surpassed all of our goals,” said Farnsworth. “Our team and coaches have all learned so much when it comes to STUNT the Sport but also about pushing ourselves to new limits.”

Not only was the team able to head into nationals with momentum from the team’s conference title, but through the last five games they’ve given up just five points while recording 87.

The opportunity to head to nationals was clinched by the team’s impressive finish to the season.

“The team is feeling a whirlwind of emotions about going to Nationals. I think we are very excited about getting the opportunity to go and compete at Nationals and continue to make history as the first Ashland STUNT team to qualify,” said GMAC Player of the Year and junior flyer Lily Boldman.

Boldman finished the 2022-23 season winning the conference Player of the Week award four times.

Even though the team is glistening with success, they are continuing to lock down routines and perfect certain inconsistencies.

“Practices right now are full of breaking down counts to routines, looking at the little details, working on timing, technique, and sticking landings when it comes to jumps and tumbling,” she said.

Alongside Boldman and the flyers, the bases and back spots have had to work hard to make sure they are at the top of their game moving forward.

“Right now we are focusing on perfecting what we have and making routines feel consistent so we are confident in Dallas,” said senior base Ashley Amstutz.

Although the team has found a lot of success from players who’ve been with the program for a while like Boldman and Amstutz, freshmen have gotten involved with helping the team win contests throughout the year. One of those stand-outs has been GMAC Freshman of the Year and flyer, Emily Keeling.

“Winning Freshman of the Year was such an honor,” she said. “I am beyond grateful for the award and couldn’t have done it without my team and coaches.”

Even with the Eagles having received three of the four yearly conference awards, other athletes on the team have stepped up. Coach Farnsworth wants to see others shine as the team prepares for the trip to Dallas for nationals.

“So many players have impressed us throughout the season,” she said. “Right now if I am looking at the past few weeks we have really seen (sophomore) Elly Dukes step up in our tumbling routines.  She is going to complete the featured skill in Jumps and Tumbling 8 and she is looking really solid and confident.”

The Eagles, riddled with depth and experience, are looking to make a run in the national tournament when the team travels to the University of Texas at Dallas from April 27-29. As the No. 3 seed, the Eagles would go up against either Concordia University, Irvine, or Dallas Baptist University, depending on how the final rankings shake out.

“We have so many donors that made it possible and we are grateful to have this experience to go and play at the national level,” Amstutz said.