Pearl River cheer claims first UCA National Championship
Dylan Dunaway / PRCC Sports Information
ORLANDO, Fla. — All of the Pearl River cheer squad's hard work and dedication over the past months has come to fruition as the Wildcats claimed the Universal Cheerleaders Association's All-Girl National Championship Saturday night at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla.
The championship marks the first in Pearl River's history.
"Words can't even describe how proud I am of the girls," Pearl River coach Sarah Smith said. "The team executed so well, not once but twice; in the most high-pressure situation that you can imagine. These girls are exceptional athletes. They are relentless in their daily pursuit of perfection, and it absolutely set them apart on the nationals floor.
"The key to our victory was strong veteran leadership, focused athletes and high standards for all of our skills."
GETTING IT DONE The Wildcats performed phenomenally in their two appearances on the weekend. In PRCC's first run, the Wildcats qualified for the finals by scoring 88.7, which led their group.
Despite having such a great first performance, Smith knew there was still work to do in the finals.
"There was never a moment where I knew we would win. Cheerleading is so unpredictable," she said. "One small mistake could cost you everything. The team executed flawlessly in the semifinals and advanced to the finals in the top spot. At that point, I knew it was possible, but everything hinged on that last performance."
In the finals, the Wildcats competed against The College of New Jersey, Rowan University, Avila University and Webber International University.
Pearl River again put in an incredible performance, scoring an 88.65 which beat its closest opponent by five points and awarded the Wildcats the National Championship.
Smith recalled what her athletes were feeling during the awards ceremony.
"For awards, all the finalists sit on the floor and placements are announced from the bottom to the top. As they awarded placements and our name still hadn't been called, the excitement was indescribable," Smith said. "To hear your name called last is the goal and when it happened, the girls went wild. They earned every bit of the accomplishment they felt in that moment.
"It felt incredible to hear our named called as National Champions. This team has put in so much hard work and to win was the ultimate award."