College cheer enchants in Disney World

Photo Courtesy of the UCA Instagram updates

Photo Courtesy of the UCA Instagram updates

Alexandra Downing

   On Jan. 13-15 cheerleading teams from colleges and universities across the nation in addition to a few international teams took the mat at the Universal Cheerleaders Association College Nationals held in Orlando Florida at the ESPN Wide World of Sport Complex in the Walt Disney World Resort. 

   Earlier in the week a majority of the teams flocked to Orlando to get settled in and take advantage of local cheer gyms and the outdoor practice spaces to get in some repetitions of their routines and make final touches before the competition commenced. 

   The competition kicked off on Friday Jan. 13 as teams participated in the semi-finals round of the gameday divisions. The gameday division features the prospective teams’ engagement in various chants, cheers, and their schools fight-song among other crowd-leading skills such as stunts and tumbling skills. 

   The competition consisted of all-girl, large coed, small coed, and spirit program teams split into division IA, division I, and open. The top teams moved on to the finals which would take place the next day. 

   The first night of competition ended with the coed partner stunt and girls “4” group stunt competition. This event consisted of 16 coed pairs which included one male and one female competitor and seven groups of the girls “4” group stunt which included four female competitors.  

   The event is highly competitive as the pairs and groups had to qualify prior to the competition. The routines consisted of only stunt skills and it is based highly on the difficulty of the skills showcased and how they are executed. The groups and pairs are set apart by who is able to not only perform the hardest skills but who is able to do so without bobbles and falls. 

   According to, in the coed partner stunt competition Paige and Oliver from Navarro college took the lead with a zero deduction routine and a final score of 95.5. Alexandra and Daniel from Weber State University followed in second place and Elsa and Micheal from Weber state capped off the podium in third. In the girls “4” group competition Jasmien, Camilia, Lexi, and Journey captured the win with a zero deduction routine. Raley, Mary, Caroline, and Lily from the University of Alabama placed second and third place went to Malea, Angelina, Alex, and Cora from North Carolina State University. 

   Competition resumed early the next morning as the gameday finals kicked off. The top colleges and Universities that qualified the previous day lit up the arena and amplified school spirit which led to a tight competition. 

   In the division IA coed gameday event The University of Cincinnati triumphed for the second year in a row with a zero deduction routine and a final score of 97.8 which just edged out the Volunteers from the University of Tennessee who trailed by about 0.47 points for a second place finish. The top three was completed by the University of South Florida who fell two places from where they stood the previous day for semi-finals. 

   The division IA all girl game day division was also highly competitive but the Bulls from the University of South Florida clenched the title with a 1.23 point lead over the second place Bowling Green State University and a 2.6 lead over the third place Temple University.

   In the small coed gameday event the University of Delaware triumphed with a zero deduction routine and a score of 94.566, followed by Hofstra University in second, and Northern Kentucky University in third. 

   In the open gameday divisions the first place finishers were Southeastern Louisiana University for coed and Sacred Heart University for all-girl. 

   As the day proceeded there was an exhibition round for the international teams as well as a mascot competition where the Cincinnati Bearcat defended his title from the previous year. 

   The night concluded with the semi-finals of the traditional competition, which includes some of the most highly anticipated divisions and performances of the weekend. 

   The traditional competition is where teams show off their high level stunt, basket and tumbling skills with a section dedicated to a chant. The competition consists of large coed, small coed, and all girl teams split into division IA, division I, and open. 

   The competition came down to every last detail to see which teams would move on to the finals the next day and included some historic moments for programs such as the University of Toledo who qualified to the finals for the first time.  

   Jan. 15 the final day of competition commenced. The day would go on to be action-packed as the finals for the traditional divisions took place. 

   The day started with the all girl division I and the open small coed finals. In the all girl competition the top two teams were miles ahead of the rest of the competition. Morehead State University clenched the title and set the stage for the University’s two other teams which would also go on to claim their prospective titles. Second place went to the University of West Georgia who were just under 10 points ahead of the third place finishers, the pioneers of Sacred Heart University. In the open small coed finals Wilmington University just edged out Drury University by 0.1 to take the lead and Northwest Community college capped off the podium in third place. 

   The next session of the day included the open all girl and small coed division I finals. Pearl River community college won the open all girls with a zero deduction routine and a score of 88.9 followed by Widener University in second place, and Rowan University in third. Morehead State dominated with their debut in the small coed division I as they scored almost 10 points higher than the second place University of West Georgia and 17.15 points higher than third place which went to the University of Delaware.

   Next up was the finals for the small coed division IA and the open coed division. The competition was intense in the small coed division IA as each of the top teams received zero deductions. The University of South Florida went to defend their title from last year with a score of 90.7 to just beat the impressive Falcons from Bowling Green State University who scored a 90.5. Third place went to the University of Minnesota. 

   In the open coed division only three teams competed but it was still a battle to see who would claim the top spot. Iowa Western Community college pulled off the win with a zero deduction routine. Second place went to Shelton State community college and third went to Jones college who fell from their first place qualification spot. 

   To close the night and end the competition the finals for the division IA coed and all girl team took place; one of the most highly awaited sessions of the entire weekend. 

   The performances were electric as the athletes delivered monumental performances and the final stances were marginal. Western Kentucky University received the top spot in the all girl division IA with the only zero deduction performance of the session and jumped six spots from their seventh place finish in the semi-finals. The University of Oklahoma placed second followed by the University of Alabama in third. 

   The coed division IA also came down to every last skill as the Bulls of The University of South Florida managed to defend their title for the third straight year as they scored a 93.4. The University of Kentucky received second place with arguably one of the most difficult routines of the weekend as they scored just 0.3 below the Bulls. The Ohio State University rounded off the podium in third place with a score of 92.0, their fourth top three finish since 2018.