April 11, 2014
• Watch Finals Performance (Varsity.com)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The University of Michigan cheer team captured its second consecutive national title at the 2014 National Cheerleaders Association Collegiate Cheer Championship on Friday (April 11) at the Ocean Center.
The Wolverines claimed the crown in the Coed Intermediate I division, besting eight other teams that advanced to the final round following a preliminary round on Thursday (April 11)
"There aren't any words that can describe what it does for our student-athletes," said head coach Pam St. John. "For them to compete for Michigan on a national stage, and to be a champion for Michigan, it is huge. They give a lot to supporting the other teams, and this is their priceless moment for them to compete and to win.
Michigan sat in fourth after Thursday's preliminary round. The coaching staff faced a decision, knowing U-M's routine carried a high degree of difficulty.
"We knew we made some mistakes on Thursday, but we asked ourselves, 'How can we give our kids the best opportunity to win?'" said St. John. "We knew the things that got us deductions yesterday, could get us deductions today. But we decided to go for it, and not dumb it down -- we trusted the training and trusted the kids, and we did it."
Michigan now has three top-two finishes in the past three years, after winning the title in 2013 and finishing runner-up in 2012.
The nationals team includes: seniors Lindsay Allen, Emily Caoagas, Chris Fraga, Adam Karpinski, A.J. Rodriguez, and Kesley Vander Wiere; juniors Ira Brandon, Mimi Conley, Annie Driesbach, Cassandra Gelov, and Carly Pinkerton; sophomores Evan Hampton, Tori Martinsen, Pat McCloskey, Nicholas Millado, Kevin Waterman, and Trevor Zajac; and freshmen Kaitlin Hamacher, Kristin Johnson, Nicole Latham, Alex Snow, Carley Wayne.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Pam St. John
On her team winning the NCA title ... "The student-athletes are so proud to represent Michigan and wear the block M -- it is something special. Our program has really climbed up the national spotlight in the last four years, and that is directly attributable to Dave Brandon making a commitment to our team. We have a great staff -- one of the best in the country. They are Michigan people."
On how the program continues to grow and excel ... "We want to be one of the elite programs in the country, Dave Brandon wants us to be one of the elite programs in the country. We have great coaches, great kids and great leadership from Dave Brandon. He's given us the tools to make this program better and the kids have responded. I'd also like to thank our fantastic athletic training staff in Bill Shinavier and Chelsea Larsen. And Kurt Golder has been wonderful to us, giving us an opportunity to train alongside his champion men's gymnastics team."
U-M Senior Captain Lindsay Allen
On how the program has grown in her four years
On repeating as NCA champions ... " It's more exciting than last year because we had so much to defend, and we worked so hard this year."
... "The biggest thing is the change in chemistry. We've made a lot of strides within the athletic department and that is wonderful. We are so close as a team, and it's allowed us to achieve better things. We've gotten so much better in hitting difficult elements, and that has helped us gel as well. We bond together as a team, this is my favorite team -- we are a very close team and that helped us defend and win back-to-back."
U-M Senior Captain A.J. Rodriguez
On repeating as NCA champions ... "This proves that we are the best cheerleaders in our division, and this is a big milestone for our program."
On how the team prepared to defend its title ... "This year we stepped up our training, we were in the gym five days a week, two hours a day. We had so much talent and we worked so hard."
On how the program has grown in his four years ... "From my freshman year to my senior, it's a complete 180 turn. We placed fourth at nationals (in 2011), but we didn't have the talent that we do right now. Each year, Michigan has supported us more and more, and that shows with how we are able to win championships."
U-M Junior Captain Cassandra Gelov
On repeating as NCA champions ... "It's more rewarding this year, this group is really close and we were doing it for each other and doing it for the seniors."
On when she knew they would win the title ... "During the routine, we're all watching each other, we knew we were hitting, the last moment was the pyramid -- and it hit. We started screaming because we hit the routine, we all knew once we hit."
On what makes this team special ... "It's such a big commitment between football games, basketball games and our own competitions. We've been having such a great time -- we are great friends, we enjoy each other's company and we want to work hard for each. We have such a close dynamic; it's helped us be successful."
Contact: Michael Kasiborski