This past weekend, the Ole Miss Cheer team traveled to Orlando for the Universal Cheerleaders/Dance Association College National Championships, and the Rebels didn’t come home empty-handed.
Multiple squads competed, including two cheer squads, a partner stunt team and the Rebelettes. Co-ed finished third in the UCA completion, and received first place in World University competition as well as winning the nation’s overall ranking. The all-girls squad finished second in World University competition.
Preparation for the completion began just as school let out for winter break. The amount of work that goes into the competition may seem like a lot, but coach Arikka Harakal enjoys seeing the focus that this allows.
“It’s crazy, but it’s nice. This allows us to truly focus on the aspects of the performance that we need to work on,” Harakal said.
The competition took place at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports over a three-day period. The squads were judged on stunting, tumbling, crowd-leading abilities and overall performance. Harakal looked on as her squads performed and was proud of the effort they put forth.
“It was amazing, and it’s a long time coming,” Harakal said. “For Co-ed, we’ve been fighting to win this position, and for all-girls, I didn’t even expect them to compete this soon because they’ve only been around for three years. I started the program when I got here, and for them to make it to finals and for people to be talking about that group is really awesome.”
While cheer isn’t considered an NCAA sport, Harakal knows that the amount of work put in is just as much as any other program.
“For me, cheer isn’t a sport, and as a coach, I like the freedom that gives us by not being under the NCAA as a sanctioned sport, but cheer is an athletic activity where we are working just as hard as any other sport in terms of physicality,” Harakal said. “It’s just hard to explain it to someone who’s never attempted it.”
After a strong showing at this completion, Harakal is ready to see what the future holds for Ole Miss Cheer.
“I feel like Ole Miss, as a cheer program, has been in the dark for a while. We’ve been a good team but not pushed in the forefront, but with all of this recognition we’re going to be lumped in with the contenders like the Alabamas and the Kentuckys,” Harakal said.
Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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