Cheerleaders ‘Elated’ Over UCA Nationals Finish

Anthony Vega, Reporter

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Back Row from Left: Krishonna Jordan, Samantha Miller, Bailey Klein, Olivia Cottle, Nicolette Bagoly, Emily Wenrich, Mariah Laubach, Rachel Rosato.
Second Row from Left: Alexa Malloy, Jenna Chilcote, Gabriella LaManna, Samantha Olcott, Brittany Nastawa, Morgan Palmer, Christina Moore, Sydney Buskirk, Abrielle Garber.
First Row from Left: Shannon Wittreich, Kristin Robinson, Kendra Mattice, Cori Aull, Stephanie Monteforte, Carrie Kinney.

After a very tough first day of competition in Disney World, the cheerleaders bounced back to finish second in the first ever National Game Day Routine Division in Universal Cheerleading Association history.

Senior Captain Cori Aull attributes the team’s success to the support the cheerleaders received after the first performance in Orlando.

“The team had a large wall in the way of looking to the Game Day performance after our first performance. Although it was a struggle in the moment, looking back it was such an easy wall to walk around because the Misericordia family was there for us,” Aull said.

She added that the team excels during game day every week, at every sporting event.

The cheerleaders went  to Florida this year with the goal of improving on last season’s performance in which they came in fifth place after reaching finals. Unfortunately for them, Nationals didn’t start off the way they wanted it to. After a couple of falls during their first performance, they worried they wouldn’t make it to finals for the first time in seven years.

When the team found out they would not in fact make it, Junior captain Samantha Miller said the cheerleaders were filled with regret.

“The performance was really full of nerves, and we just weren’t the same team we normally are when we perform,” Miller said. “Confidence was definitely lacking for the performance.  We all kind of knew we didn’t really perform the routine how we should have.”

On the bright side, the girls had a second chance to show the nation what they are made of. The UCA added another day of competition for the Game Day routines that every cheerleading team preforms during their schools’ games. This event did not separate schools by division. However, the schools were divided according to university size.

Day two of the competition seemed to be the tougher one because the girls were going against four Division I schools and had to overcome the poor performance the day before.

“We were able to turn it around because we let go of the performance of the day before.  Something that got us through was the saying, ‘rise up,’”   Miller said.

She said the cheerleaders listened to the Andra Day song of that title throughout their preparations for Nationals, andwhile they were aware that they didn’t rise up on the previous day, they knew they still had a chance.

“As a team we love game day. All year long that is our focus.  From day one of pre-camp in the first week, it is clear that cheering on our teams, football and basketball, is more important than a competition routine.  Our game day routine is just fun and something we are really confident in.”

When he light turned on the Game Day mat, and the cheerleaders took the floor in their blue and gold uniforms, the music played and the girls preformed a nearly flawless routine. Junior Cheerleader Abrielle Garber said the excitement was electrifying.

“Second place at nationals is crazy to me! Going into the Game Day competition, I was not expecting to place, because we were competing against teams from D I, D II, and D III,” said Garber.

She said she had hoped the team would do the routine to the best of their ability. Placement was not on her mind.

“Then, they started announcing awards and with every placement that was announced I was waiting for our name to be called. We heard seventh and sixth, and we were so excited to be in top five. Then, after fourth place was called, we realized we were in the top three and we were going to get medals and we were elated!

The only teams left were Cal Poly and Monmouth,  D I and  D II, respectively.

“So, our name was called second and I won’t lie, first would have been great, but receiving a silver medal in the first ever Game Day competition—second only to a D I school by 0.4 points, was amazing.”

It was the perfect ending for a trip that began with disappointment. The team will continue to cheer on the sidelines for the all of the home basketball games but as for competing, they are done for the season.

This is Aull’s fifth and final season with the team.

“This experience would never be possible without the girls being such a motivator. For years to come this is what we are going to look back on. For those looking into the program know that these girls will never give up, and for the girls continuing to grow in this program, never give up on yourself but just know if you ever do someone will be there to pick you up,” she said.

The cheerleaders also received recognition from John White, the director of college programs for UCA, for the quality of their crowd tape, which is put together by coach Tara Sinclair to show community outreach and as well as school and community performances.

They received a perfect score for the tape, which is worth 15 points.

“John White helps to judge those tapes and he approached us to inform us that our work does not go unnoticed, and that really means a lot to us and our program,” Aull said.

The cheerleaders mean a lot to others, too. Their service work is rigorous. This year the cheerleaders organized a “Cougar Cheer Challenge” competition and asked teams to donate non-perishable food items. They collected over 4,000 items, which is the highest total yet.

But that’s far from all of their service.

“We donated five Thanksgiving meals to families. We collected hats, gloves, and scarves to be donated. We donated socks to Socktober. We donated cereal to the cereal drive. We volunteer for three nights at Hillside Farms for Christmas in the Barn, and we also volunteered at Trucksville Early Childhood Education Center. All October long we raise money for the American Cancer society. We also had three angel stars for the local community, and we also donate to the Stuff the Bus campaign.  In the spring, we will participate in many more community programs.”

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