Competitive cheer and dance places third in the country in two events at nationals


Nadya Makay

Competitive cheer placed third in the coed and game day events at the National NCA & NDA Championships, which took place Thursday-Saturday in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Alex Pepke, Sports Editor

Gannon University’s competitive cheer and dance team competed at four events at the National NCA & NDA Championships Thursday-Saturday in Daytona Beach, Fla. The four events were dance-team performance, cheer-coed, cheer-game day and dance hip-hop.

Dance put up a score of 83.42 in the team performance Friday, which was good for sixth in the nation. Gannon posted a perfect score of 10.0 in collegiate image and an impressive 8.92 in performance impression.

Coed, in the advanced small coed division, scored a 91.4208 and ended in third place. The team improved its scores in almost every category from the preliminary round, including a 9.70 score in jumps and a 9.10 in standing tumbling and tosses.

Game day posted a final score of 82.0167, also finishing third in the nation. The Knights had the highest score in the division in two categories, game day skill incorporation (8.30) and visual appeal (8.50).

Gannon’s dance team scored an 86.40 in the hip-hop division, finishing fifth in the country. It was the only Gannon team to perform Saturday and it was able to score over an 8.00 in every category.

This is the eighth year of the competitive cheer team’s existence at Gannon, and only the third for the competitive dance team. The program has grown each year and consistently qualifies and competed at the NCA & NDA championships every season.

Although it is a sport that doesn’t get as much exposure as traditional sports such as football and basketball, the student-athletes work year-round to compete at the national championships.

“We practice hard all year, working toward skills to compete at nationals,” said Nadya Makay, a junior on the team. “We practice five days a week in the fall then six days a week in the spring. We usually have four to five other competitions during the season to help us prepare for nationals, but this year it wasn’t possible due to COVID-19.”

In 2020, the team’s season got cut short once the pandemic hit, which was tough on a team that works hard all year for a chance to compete at Daytona in the spring.

“We got our season taken away from us last year and it was incredibly hard on our team,” said Makay. “We used that as motivation to fight so hard this year.”

It appears that hard work paid off. Three out of the four Gannon teams that competed posted scores that beat or tied their all-time best finish at nationals. It was the first year that the dance team competed in the hip-hop division.

Looking forward, this is obviously a program on the rise at Gannon and nationally. Hopefully, it will get to compete in a normal season next year, and based on how hard the team works, I wouldn’t be surprised if it finished even higher at nationals in 2021.

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