Disney Offers Bronze for Cougars

Melanie Quintanilla, Reporter

The cheerleading squad finished third at the Universal Cheerleading Association College Cheer and Dance National Championships in Orlando, Fl. in January – the highest ranking in school history.

The Cougars competed in the Open All-Girl Division against Division III institutions and community colleges throughout the country. Leading the team was head coach Tara Sinclair. Courtney Pentka assisted.

This was the Cougar’s sixth time to compete and the third time that the squad qualified for finals within the last three years.

“To make this our third consecutive year on making it to the final rounds is amazing,” said Sinclair.

The Cougars finished in 5th place in 2012 and in 4th in 2013.

“We are consecutively getting better and better every year,” Sinclair said. “You can see that we are definitely working our way to the top.”

The squad pushed forward at the nationals, finishing second in the semifinal round, behind The College of New Jersey, before advancing onto the final round.

“We have five seniors who are leading, and they did a fantastic job getting the team together, keeping them unified and positive,” said Sinclair.

The coaches and the team agreed the effort has been paying off.

“The coaches and captains gave inspirational leadership from amazing warm-ups to fantastic performances that were supported by the love and cheers of alumni, friends and family,” senior captain Sarah Richard said.

Richard accredited much of the team’s glory to the hard work of the coaching staff.

“None of this would have been possible without the organization and the leadership of our coaches, Tara Sinclair and Courtney Pentka. This season they have outdone themselves by balancing a new marriage, a newborn baby and all the time that they put in to train us for top placement at nationals.”

During the final round the Cougars fell short and were pushed down to third after Nassau Community College placed above them with TCNJ in first.

“Our first performance was definitely stronger and we tweaked things for the second performance, but then we had some bobbles which caused us to lose some points,” Sinclair said.

Sinclair was happy with third place because a victory of some sort was well deserved by her hardworking team.

“We finished in third which, we are so excited and happy about. We are really happy about what we put out there on the mat because it really was a clean performance and there was definitely an elevated level of difficulty this year,” said Sinclair.

Richard agreed that her team put in enough effort to deserve the win.

“The 26 sisters on the MU cheer team are fully deserving of this title because they have worked so hard together since the start of the season,” said Richard.

Finishing in 3rd made this the best finish in the school’s history for the girls.

“The whole program came to- gether to pursue our passion and dream ambitiously through and through and never gave up until we were titled as third in the na- tion in the Open All-Girl division,” said Richard.

The third place win did not come easily for the team. Extra work and dedication was necessary to even make it close to the finals.

“In the beginning of the year we set rigorous goals that the team exceeded. These goals included difficult stunting, tumbling skills, academic excellence and time well spent in the community with ser- vice that gives back through our many blessings,” Richards said.

In order for the team to qualify for nationals there are many elements which, are required to be met. A skills tape needed to be provided in advance which demonstrated the team’s techniques and skills and also showed that safety guidelines were being followed.

A crowd tape also needed to be provided which, showed the team’s ability to lead the crowd and the team’s involvement on campus.

“This really helps create a better name for the program and for the university. It is not easy; it requires a lot of time and a lot of energy,” Sinclair said.

While in Florida, the cheerlead- ing team dedicated its entire Friday to practicing and preparing for Saturday night’s final rounds. After all of their hard work paid off and they achieved third place, the cheerleaders gathered together on Sunday and returned to ESPN Wide World of Sports to watch the other divisions of cheerleading teams in their final rounds.

Sinclair said that watching these routines “gives us something to aspire to.”

Later on that day, the team celebrated the accomplishment in the parks of Disney by visiting the attractions, dining and taking advantage of the rides.

“This being my last year, I could not have asked for anything more than the great weekend the MU cheerleading team had at the 2014 Universal Cheering Association College Nationals. The accomplishment should bring Cougar pride to  all of the countless people that made all the hard work leading up to each element of the championship weekend possible,” said Richard.

“We are so lucky to be a part of a family like the Misericordia Uni- versity’s cheerleading program,” Richard said.

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