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This item originally appeared in the Dec. 11, 2003, issue of The Tech Talk.

By STEFANIE HILL

Staff Writer

The varsity cheerleading squad has something to cheer about.

They will be competing in the National Cheerleading Competition in January in Orlando, Fla.

Melissa Pierrelee, a member of the competition squad and a senior family and child studies major, said the team practices while everyone else is enjoying their time off from school.

"We are even practicing during the break, so we are here while everyone else has left and gone home," Pierrelee said.

In August, the squad sent a video of their routine to the national cheerleading judges for a preliminary viewing and received sixth place of all the teams who sent in video tapes.

This makes the team rank higher than any other sports team on campus.

The cheerleading squad did not attend competition last year but has been many times before then.

With her previous experience on the team, Pierrelee said she feels this team is definitely one of the best yet.

"I was on the team that went to finals two years ago and have been on the cheerleading team for awhile, and I think the team this year is the best I have seen," Pierrelee said.

The team has been preparing for competition since last spring. Candee Anderson, spirit coordinator, said during tryouts, they were trying to choose a team that would go to nationals.

They practice every day except Saturdays and twice on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

"This team is very talented; their attitudes are going in the right direction, and I feel like we have a good chance of making it," Anderson said.

Jason O'Glee, a coach from Shreveport, has helped the squad prepare their routine.

The team traveling to Florida to compete will consist of seven girls and nine guys from the varsity squad.

Anderson said she feels these are some of the best teams and one of the hardest divisions.

For the competition the judges will consist of people who have been in the cheerleading industry for at least 15 years.

The team will perform stunts and do tumbling and pyramids, among many other things.

They will have to perform their entire routine for the judges in two-and-a-half minutes. There will be 20 to 30 teams competing at nationals.

Tony Sterba, a squad member and a graduate student of exercise science, said he feels positive about the whole event.

"I am pretty optimistic about our routine," Sterba said. "I feel good about our team, and we had excellent coaching."

If the team does well at the nationals, they will continue to finals that same weekend.

That competition will be broadcast on ESPN in the spring.

After April, the competition will air on television at least once a month for a year.

Sterba also thinks the team is good and will make it to finals.

Sterba said, "If we hit our routine the day of the competition, I think we will definitely make it to the finals."


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