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Cheer USA Nationals 2008 champions

For the first time in campus history, varsity cheer earned the designation of national champion. In their final competition of the year, they won the Varsity Performance Cheer Division at the United Sprit Association (USA) Nationals at the Anaheim Convention Center, March 6-9.

Four other teams qualified for the finals in their division among the 256 schools and 3,000 competitors. The campus squad of 11 however dominated the division with two nearly perfect routines to clinch the trophy.

“The girls were full of energy and nerves,” Katie Mendenhall, cheer coach, said. “They had never competed in such a huge arena before.”

The Varsity Performance Cheer division showcases stunt ability, motion technique and jumps. The cheer squad’s performance consisted of toe touch basket tosses, multi-flyer combos and scorpion to scale to arobesque techniques and garnered scores of 89 and 92 points out of 100 from the judges.

“We were screaming and crying and we couldn’t believe we won,” senior Taryn Brown, cheer captain, said. “Sam (Krikorian, ’08) and I looked at each other in amazement and just screamed. We couldn’t believe we finally ended up on top.”

Krikorian, who first began performing with the squad as an 8th grade student, first was introduced to cheer through former cheer coach Eunie McEntee’s cheer clinics as a 4th grader.

“Working so hard these past four years and finishing the year with such a fantastic conclusion to my high school cheer career is so satisfying,” Krikorian said. “I finally feel we have accomplished what we set out to do four years ago. We finally beat out the reigning national champion.”

FC dethroned Idaho’s Eagle High, the reigning champions while Hillcrest High of Midvale, Utah, finished second.

While the cheer program has never won a national championship before, the varsity cheer squad of 1993 placed second on the same stage. McEntee coached the team from its infancy starting in the mid 1980s. In an ironic twist, coach Mendenhall, who took over the campus cheer program in 2004, was a part of the ’93 group who placed second at the same USA Nationals.

With flyers Krikorian and juniors Brittany Stobbe and Nikki Erickson unfazed by the crowd, the team was nearly flawless in execution.

“It was difficult multitasking and focusing on facials, doing the routine right and making sure to not drop the flyers,” Brown said. “Our goal was to make the judges never have time to look down to write.”

After working on their routine since camp in July 2007, and perfecting it at competitions, the cheer squad?s work came together in their final two performances.

“You only have one chance to pull off a perfect routine and our girls did it twice,” Mendenhall said. “The girls have finally carved a place in Fresno Christian history for them.”

Overcoming an early slump at the beginning and middle of the year, the cheer squad committed themselves to the departing seniors. Varsity earned the right to compete in USA’s Nationals 2008 when they qualified at USA’s Regionals at Orange Lutheran, Jan. 20.

“In the middle of the season because of injuries earlier in the year, some of the girls were struggling to keep their commitment level where it needed to be,” Mendenhall said. “It was a challenge for them to refocus and finish strong but they did and were rewarded for their determination.”

While most only focus on the flyers, it is the bases and fronts on the team whose strength on the floor creates stability for the team.

“What pushed us was that our seniors are in their last year so we wanted to give this to the seniors,” Natalie McCallum, ’09, said. “It was a complete shocker when we won because our squad had gone through a lot this year. The bases and fronts are strong and have a persevering attitude and it showed on Sunday.”

Without skipping a beat, the team returned to Fresno and will compete against each other on campus during cheer try-outs for next year’s squad, March 13-14.

Check back in the days to come for more photos on the historic event. Go to the photos section of this paper or view Cheer is No. 1! or Varsity Performance Cheer national champions.

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