Volume 93, Issue 51

Tuesday, November 30, 1999


Western Cheerleading #1 again

Synchronized at Trent

Mustangs inch past Gryphons

What happened to my Rangers?

Western Cheerleading #1 again

Photo courtesy of the Western cheerleading team
TOP OF THE WORLD, MA. That's what all the cheerleaders were saying after they won the national cheerleading championships on the weekend.

By Wes Brown
Gazette Staff

A close call over the weekend saw Western's cheerleaders do 2.5 points better than Queen's University to win the University National Cheerleading Championship for the 15th consecutive year.

The Mustang's faced some of their toughest competition in recent years, but managed to out-compete Queen's by 543.5 total points to 541. Western head coach David-Lee Tracey said this was the closest it has ever been for his team.

"We're so used to winning by 30-40 points. It just goes to show how much better the teams are starting to get," Tracey said. "There was an especially good squad over at Queen's. Their coach Sandy [Han] has been around cheerleading for a long time."

Western's strategy for these competitions has typically been to overpower their opponents with lots of tumbling, pyramids and one on one partner stunts. Tracey said it was because of the difficulty and the number of tricky moves that Western made some errors in the finals.

"We made a couple of mistakes, but we try to make everything bigger and badder then the rest of the teams," he said. "Tumbling is clearly our advantage. Most teams have four or five who tumble, we have 18 out of 18 who are doing the tumbling. We have some of the strongest cheerleading gymnasts in the country."

The Mustangs have a very young squad, with eight out of their 18 members competing for the first time on the weekend – a situation Tracey said they overcame with large amounts of preparation and training.

"We opened a training centre down at the Galleria Mall and [the team] is in there three days a week – this coming from two years ago when we didn't even have a mat to practice on," Tracey said.

Team captain Alex Pickering agreed with his coach's emphasis on training and said when it came right down to it, they're doing something every day for cheerleading.

"We overdo everything," Pickering said of the squad's work ethic. "I think our difference is for sure the level of intensity. Intensity in our training, our recruiting – in everything."

Pickering said he was also used to winning by a margin which was larger than this year's, but added Queen's has been getting consistently better over the six years they have competed.

"After us and [Queen's], we were still well ahead of everyone else. A lot of tops [smaller girls] quit at the start of the year. The girl I was working with, Nicole Myers, had only been up in the air for a month and a half. So you can see what we were up against," he said.

This is Pickering's third championship with Western and his first as team captain, something he said made this one particularly special. "I got to be a leader and play the important roles on the team. Each year it's different, the only thing that has been the same is that Trace is still the coach."

Han said they had no idea they were going to be runners up at the end of the day. "One of our member's knees blew out before the final performance. We had to re-choreograph [our routine] in about 20 minutes and [take] it from there," Han said.

Queen's was tinkering with their program when Western was on, but Han said when she saw the tape afterwards, the Mustangs were as strong as they have ever been, despite a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes.

"They usually have a perfect routine, but they had enough to win. We still respect Western as much as we always have, it just shows the evolution of cheerleading at the university level. All of the teams are getting better," she said.

Western will represent Canada at the North American finals in Daytona, Florida and Han wished the Mustangs well as the primary representative of this country at the competition.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999