DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — They knew they did their absolute best this week in Daytona when the Stanislaus State cheerleaders embraced each other with hugs as tears of joy ran down their cheeks immediately after the final performance.
Backstage at the Ocean Center, where the 2018 NCA Collegiate Cheerleading National Championships took place on Friday, they celebrated since they knew the team “hit zero” and gave it all they had. They knew they had done something special for themselves and the program.
An hour later, at the awards ceremony, the results were confirmed. The Stan State cheer team “hit zero” with no deductions to place third in the Intermediate All-Girls Division II competition.
Stanislaus scored 93.10 in the finals, just 0.63 behind second place Oklahoma Baptist (93.73) and champion Valdosta State (94.07). The Warriors out-scored the rest of the field, including the top two teams, in stunts and choreography and shared the highest scores in stunt and pyramids techniques.
“I am just so proud of this group of ladies. This sounds cliché, but they really truly did believed in each other and competed for each other,” coach Michael DeGuzman said. “This top three finish was an amazing accomplishment for us. We surpassed our goals to do what we wanted to do this year. To say that we are top 3 in nation in our second year competing here is a huge achievement for this program.”
A total of nine teams competed in Friday’s finals after Thursday’s prelims and Challenge Cup qualifiers. In the finals, the Warriors finished ahead of West Liberty, Pittsburgh-Johnstown, Gannon, Dallas Baptist, Lander and Central Oklahoma.
The third-place finish was a drastic improvement from 2017 when the team finished sixth in its NCA championships debut. This is just the fourth year of competition for the Stanislaus State cheer program. The Warriors competed among long-running programs and finished well ahead of two-time defending champion Central Oklahoma.
The Warriors began competition in 2015 at the USA (United Spirit Association) Championships in Anaheim and finished second closely behind California Baptist (now a six-time defending champion in advanced Division II) in 2016.