LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Washington State University Cheer advanced to the finals, Saturday, Jan. 18, at the Universal Cheerleaders Association Cheerleading Team National Championships held at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports at Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Cougars will compete against 12 other squads in the finals, held Sunday, Jan. 19 at 3:30 p.m. PT.
Out of 18 squads from Saturday’s competition, 13 teams advanced to the championship due to a tie for 12th. The Cougars are making their first appearance in the competition and are the first Division IA team since Kansas in the early 2000s to advance to the finals in its debut year.
The Cougars are joined in the finals by last year’s champion Memphis, last year’s runner-up, Kentucky, as well as, Florida State, LSU, Mississippi State, UCF, Alabama, Cincinnati, Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi and Tennessee. LSU is the only other cheer squad located west of the Mississippi River to advance to the finals this year.
Sixteen of the 32 Cougar Cheer Squad members are competing at the championships in Florida, including nine males and seven females. Of the 16 cheer members in Florida, seven are freshman while just one is a senior.
The cheer routines last two minutes and 30 seconds as one minute and 45 seconds must be crowd-leading cheer. The Cougars received perfect scores of 15 in crowd interaction tapes sent in prior to the competition, meaning the squad did not start down any points, giving it an advantage.
“There’s a buzz about WSU Athletics, and you can feel that with all the sports,” second-year head coach Chris Opheim said. “We’re on the rise and the spirit program is too. We want to be a part of that conversation, that everyone is gunning for a championship when they come to WSU.”
The WSU dance team, the Crimson Girls, competed in the Division IA Hip Hop and Jazz competitions, against tough fields, and did not advance to the finals.
The finals can be watched live on Varsity TV at http://varsity.com/event/1536/college_live_stream.