Cheerleaders give record-setting performance at nationals

The WKU cheerleading team placed third in the Universal Cheerleading Association College National Championships on Jan. 3. Third is the highest finish in WKU cheerleading history. Submitted photograph by Joshua Bewley

Bailey Townsend

On Jan. 16 the WKU co-ed and women’s cheerleading teams traveled to Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida, to compete in the Universal Cheerleading Association College National Championships.

The UCA nationals showcase top collegiate cheerleading squads and feature highly competitive Division I programs.

Despite facing stiff competition, the women’s squad placed third out of 18 teams while the co-ed team placed eighth out of 23 teams. The No. 3 finish for the women’s team is the highest finals ranking in WKU’s cheerleading history.

“I was really excited for an amazing group of young ladies who were able to consistently better themselves and work together toward a common goal,” women’s Assistant Coach Joshua Bewley said. “[The co-ed team] lead the way with their highest placement last year, which fueled us to follow in those footsteps and push for our own best finish this year.”

Last year at nationals, the co-ed team finished fifth overall in its category. That final ranking was previously the highest finish any WKU cheerleading team had accomplished at nationals.

The co-ed team was also one of the only teams in the entire competition to successfully land its routine on both days of the competition.

The impressive back-to-back finishes showed the strength and consistency of the cheerleading program, which has shown considerable improvement in the last several seasons.

The women’s team, whose main goal for the contest was to place in the top five, fully met that goal with its third-place ranking. This finish etches a mark for the squad in WKU’s all-time record books as the top cheerleading team to attend the university.

“Once they announced third place and called our name, we were in shock but so excited to have done that well and have placed higher than any other Western cheerleading team,” said freshman women’s cheerleader Savannah Pierce. “We had two top-10 finishes for all-girl and coed, and that was the best part, seeing our entire program thrive.”

When asked what advice he gave the women’s squad before it competed in the finals, Coach Bewley said, “I told them, ‘You only need to beat yourselves and the routine. If you do that, the placement will take care of itself. You have worked so hard all year; take this moment and enjoy it.’”

Both teams enjoyed their success at nationals, kick-starting the 2016 semester for the cheerleading program. Both top-10 finishes set a powerful example for future squads.

The WKU cheerleaders will continue to support both the men’s and women’s basketball teams for the rest of their seasons as they head towards the Conference-USA tournament.