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by Caroline Johnson, staff writer

HPU Cheer and Dance did it again, taking home a total of four national titles at the National Cheer Association and National Dance Alliance Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championships April 9 - 11 in Daytona Beach, FL.
The preliminary competition for both dance and cheer was held April 9 at the Peabody Auditorium and the Ocean Center, respectively. Cheer teams were required, only at prelims, to perform 45 seconds of a crowd involvement cheer, prior to their routine which could be up to two minutes and 15 seconds.
All four of HPU’s teams, including large co-ed, small coed, all-girl, and dance achieved the highest score within their division, and went into finals in first place.
For the fourth year in a row, and fifth time in six years, the dance team claimed the Division II title. Following its preliminary performance, the dance team was happy with their performance. Senior dance captain Megan Hengesbaugh said, “We never settled; even after placing 1st in prelims, we still saw room to improve. Going into finals we were determined to show everyone how much we wanted and deserved to win another national title.”
The Tamagawa University Julias dance team from Tokyo has closely trailed HPU in the past years. HPU clinched first place in the finals by little more than a tenth of a point.
“ The crowd this year was unforgettable!” Hengesbaugh said.
“ Our cheerleaders were right in front pumping us up, pounding the floor, holding signs and screaming loud along with our family and friends. The sound of the conch shell was echoing throughout Daytona, and this year there were actually other teams and dance fans standing up cheering for us when we finished. Those are moments I will never forget,” she added.
The Large Coed cheer team, made up mostly of males, placed first in Division II for the seventh consecutive year. Only one other team has taken home seven straight titles, in the same seven years as HPU: the University of Louisville’s large coed team, which competes in Division IA.
“ I didn’t feel nervous at all,” Senior Tyree Payne said. “I felt confident that my team would do their best, and I was determined to do my best for my team.”
The All-Girl squad last competed at NCA nationals in 2006, placing third. The team was re-created in January and claimed the national title for the very first time. All-Girl squad captain Senior Carlee Johnson, who has been cheering at HPU since 2005, and who competed with All-Girl both in 2006 and 2009, said: “I’m really proud of all the girls for pulling it together for only having been together since the beginning of second semester.”
“ It was a combination of hard work, perseverance, dedication, and positivity that allowed us to become true champions,” added Johnson.
Small Coed encountered an unexpected defeat during finals when Nathan Bair, one of the four males competing with the squad, crumbled to the ground and off the mat after completing his tumbling pass.
The NCA head judge stopped the music and asked the squad to stop the routine, and the once deafening crowd stood still in silence as HPU trainers and NCA staffed rushed to carry Bair off the mat.
Under NCA rules the team did not have an opportunity to compete their routine again.
Devastated cheerleaders, parents, and spectators alike watched as HPU’s Small Coed squad went from first place in the preliminary round to fifth place in finals. NCA allowed the team to perform an exhibition of their routine after the awards ceremony.
The team members, including alternates, proudly took the mat, bearing the name “Nathan” on each of their arms, and performed their routine worth with pride and unity.
“ It was a devastating day for us,” said graduate student and Small Coed captain Savanna Sibley, “but I’m so proud of how our team came together.”
“ We may have not won another national title, but we were still true champions. I look forward to going back next year and competing to reclaim the national title,” added Sibley.
All-Girl stunt groups and male and female partner stunts also have the opportunity to compete at nationals. HPU All-Girl stunt group, comprised of Ashley Lewis, Lyndsey Helin, Ashley Faulkner, and Chelsey Kannan placed first, while another HPU All-Girl stunt group, made up of Savanna Sibley, Emily Myers, Lauren Loeb, and Heather Turner claimed second in all divisions.
Large Coed members Travis Robillard and April Huliganga placed within the top five in the partner stunt division. Sharky competed in the mascot division and placed fifth.
The teams presented their trophies to the school at HPU’s Intercultural Day April 17.



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