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Cheer squad qualifies for USA Nationals

As cheerleaders nationwide focus on gymnastic routines, tumbling, and stunts, many dropped the rah-rah cheers and pom-poms for competition.

For the first time since 2000, the cheer squad qualified for the United Spirit Association (USA) Nationals and placed second in the Regionals hosted by Clovis East on Nov. 11. To qualify, the squad had to score at least 80 points. Clovis West won the event.

?This competition set our standards even higher,? Whitney Stipe, ?08, said. ?The excitement of this year will show through our routine. This is going to be another amazing year for cheerleading.?

However, a second place finish left some of the squad discouraged.

?We were psyched to show off our routine even though this was the first competition of the year,? Samantha Krikorian, ?08, said. ?After watching Clovis West perform before us and hearing that we out performed Bullard, we thought that we had first. It was disappointing to hear our names called out for second when we knew and felt we had the proof of first.?

Although FC seemed to be the underdog in the competition, the team defeated other squads 10 times their size. FC’s best recent finish in a USA competition was in 1997 when they placed second in the United States under Eunie McEntee in Anaheim.

“We actually qualified for USA Nationals in LA from 1989-1997,” McEntee said. “Katie was a part of the 1993 squad that placed second. Our girls have a commitment to excellence and have a past record that reflects that.”

Under McEntee’s coaching, FC cheer placed second in at the USA Nationals in 1990, 1993, 1995 and 1997. The girls also placed first at Clovis Pep numerous times in the 1990s. During those years, FC competed in the large varsity division which also made those second place finishes even more amazing when school size was taken into consideration.

“We competed against schools that had over 3000 students while our student body had just over 225,” McEntee said. “We just went to compete and do our best whomever we met”.

Under Mendenhall, the team has been rebuilding after McEntee retired from coaching cheer four years ago.

“Some say politics played a part of why the girls did not place first this year,” third-year coach Katie Mendenhall said. “I don’t know about that–what I do know is that the varsity cheer team from Fresno Christian represented our school with character and pride.”

The squad raised the expectations by adding more stunts, dancing, cheer and tumbling.

?Our hard work and devotion showed through this routine,? Anna Lynne Graham, ’07, captain, said. ?It was exciting to finally show everyone what we are. It showed our determination and rose the standards once again.?

Mendenhall based the choreography according to the criminal, CSI-based theme.

?Our routine is somewhat of a show to watch,? Mendenhall said. ?It has high energy and it was non-stop. It had a much different look to it compared to the half-time game routines performed by the opposition.?

Tick-tock twist cradles, scissor kick basket tosses, barrel rolls, torch-scorpion-arabesque and kick over torches characterize this years? routine.

?We did really good for the level of difficulty the routine was,? Taryn Brown, ?08, said. ?We hit everything; we kept it clean, we did really good. It was thrilling to perform something like that.?

The next competition will be in the FCC Sacramento Classic in Sacramento hosted by Capital Christian on Nov. 18. The cheerleaders will perform at 11:45 A.M.

“They had to work hard to master this routine, on Saturday it paid off,” Mendenhall said. “They hit every stunt, motion and dance sequence with ease. It was magic to watch. What a blessing to have that much success this early in the competitive season. It is encouraging to have this kind of start to build off of for next week’s competition.”

The varsity squad will also compete in the FCC National Cheer Competition in Orlando, Florida, during the first week of January 2007. Last year, they finished eighth in that competition.

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