DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The Weber State University spirit squad claimed first place in the Cheer Division I at the NCA/NDA National Championships held at the The Band Shell/Ocean Center/Peabody Auditorium on Friday.
"We are in absolute shock," said WSU spirit squad advisor Summer Willis. "This is a first-ever for our team and we're the first-ever cheer team from Utah to win here. It's amazing. Our team has put in countless hours of hard work to get to this point and we have come very close in past competitions. It's great to see the commitment by our team pay off in the biggest competition of the year, and I couldn't be happier for our school, our supporters and our team."
The Wildcats produced a score of 8.830 in the finals, upsetting seven-time defending champion Stephen F. Austin State, who finished second with a 8.777. Central Arkansas (8.534), Grambling State (8.407) and Coastal Carolina (7.873) rounded out the Cheer Division I field, which is the second of three cheer divisions at the championships. The Wildcats finished fourth in the preliminary round, but rallied with the performance in the finals.
The Weber State dance team, coached by Michelle Falk, also placed in the top three, coming in third in the Dance Open I division. The Wildcats, who scored 8.900 in the finals, placed behind champion Towson University (9.528) and runner-up Sam Houston State (9.153).
2009 marked the second-straight year that WSU has competed at the championships. In 2008, the Wildcats finished third in the cheer competition and second in the dance portion.
Almost 5,000 student athletes and 15,000 supporters and spectators convene each year for this spectacular competition of technical skills, breathtaking choreography, crowd pleasing showmanship, synchronization, and teamwork. Seven Dance Divisions and eleven Cheer Divisions separate teams by designation of All-Girl or Coed, skill level, university enrollment (Division 1, 1A, or II), Junior College, or International. Championship winners are also awarded for Partner Stunts, Group Stunts, and Mascot at Stunt Fest Mania on Saturday.
"We would like to thank all of the people that have helped enable us to attend this event," said Willis. "We had to fundraise every penny to make this trip, and we are extremely grateful for all the support that we have received. We definitely share this championship with those people, as we would not be here without them. Hopefully we can return next year to defend our title."
Televison coverage of the NCA & NDA Championships will occur regionally on April 25-27 on Fox Sports Net. The non-Division 1A broadcast, which would contain WSU's division, airs on the 27th, with the Division 1A being broadcast on the 25th and 26th. Check local listings for times. Streaming video of the Wildcats' performances can be found at Varsity.com