GVSU cheerleading places second in National Championship in Daytona

GVL / Courtesy - GVSU Cheerleading

GVL / Courtesy – GVSU Cheerleading

Louis Ricard

Senior Taylor Barrett and her Grand Valley State cheerleading teammates had one mission in mind when they set foot in Daytona, Florida, for the NCA College National Championship: Win.

After cruising through the preliminaries with a perfect routine that put them first on the scoreboard with 94.97, Barrett could already picture herself holding the trophy up above her head.

During the finals, GVSU looked great, hitting every stunt to perfection up until the very last second, when one mistake happened.

One of the stunt groups fell with almost no time left on the clock, causing a deduction of 0.75 points and ending Barret’s dream of ending a cheerleading career as a national champion.

“The unfortunate thing about the sport of cheerleading is that one small, wrong move can set off a trail of mistakes, and as much as you prepare, flukes do happen,” said head coach Brandy Skantze.

The GVSU coed team finished second behind Lindenwood University with a score of 93.95. On the other hand, the all-girl team finished fourth with a score of 91.87.

“I felt like it was a great experience for both teams, regardless of placement,” Skantze said. “Being able to compete alongside the best teams in the nation is an incredible, sometimes once-in-a-lifetime experience that creates amazing memories and drives us to improve.”

The GVSU cheerleading team has overcome a lot of obstacles over the years, and 2018 was no different, Barrett said. After losing 17 athletes this season, the Lakers had to reshape their routine and move people around to be as successful as they wanted to be.

It almost worked for the coed team, as this year was one of their most successful ones in recent history, according to Barrett.

“It’s the most talent we’ve had in terms of diversity,” Barrett said. “We never had a wide spectrum of talent, and everybody is kind of like a piece of the puzzle, so it comes together a lot better.”

The puzzle Barrett mentioned is the result of four years of work and development for GVSU. Back when Barrett first set foot in Allendale her freshman year, GVSU cheer used to be at the bottom of the rankings. Since then, GVSU has won two National Championships and placed among the top teams consistently.

The GVSU all-girls team also came close to stepping on the podium in one of the most competitive conferences.

“The all-girl team put the cleanest routine they ever had out there this year,” Skantze said. “Their division is incredibly hard, and we strive to stay competitive every year.”

Although both teams are frustrated with the results, Skantze knows her teams gave it their all, and that’s all she could ask for.

“Both teams had minor mistakes on finals day, so if we could take those back, of course I would,” Skantze said. “But honestly, both teams poured their hearts into their routines, and I’m proud of them.”