National four-peat by the beach

The cheerleading team took first place honors for the fourth straight season in Ocean City, Maryland.
The cheerleading team took first place honors for the fourth straight season in Ocean City, Maryland.

By Brandon Scalea

For the fourth straight year, the cheerleading team received first place honors at Reach the Beach, a prestigious national competition in Ocean City, Maryland.

Fourteen teams from across the nation competed in this All-Star based competition. Among these schools were Penn State, James Madison, Delaware Valley and Moravian.

Head Coach Cherie Voorhees-Carcaci stressed that the team’s success has come from years of hard work.

“This fourth straight win means that we have an extremely competitive program at Rider,” she said. “It has been cultivated over the years with the number of talented students that we have from different backgrounds, even outside cheer. We offer not only a great experience supporting our sports teams, but can shine at the competitive collegiate level.”

On day one of the competition, the single-stunt team received national championship honors. This team of five women is made up of Kara Kellenbenz, Jackie Cunningham, Emily Fenerty, Gina Ficarra, and Caitlyn Toth.

The second day of the competition included the routines, which are two and a half minutes long. Each school’s routine involves single stunts, jumps, pyramids, standing and running tumbles and dancing.

Freshman Catrina Strubinger was particularly impressed with her team’s performance in the routine round.

“We had to learn this routine in about two weeks,” she said. “Yet we still hit it absolutely flawless at nationals. This is such a testament to how hard we work as a team.”

After day one, Rider was ranked No. 1 overall in the competition based on scoring. The scores of days one and two were averaged together, leaving the team at the top of the pack. At a close second and third place were Penn State and Shepherd University, respectively.

As a result of its win, Rider received a $1,000 check for its program and a fully paid bid to move on to the next stage, U.S. Nationals.

After a season of cheering on the men’s and women’s basketball teams, which involved a trip to Albany for the MAAC Tournament, it was hard for Strubinger to pick out her favorite moment of the year.

“Besides traveling to Albany for the MAAC’s, winning this competition was the highlight of my freshman year,” she said. “It was an amazing experience to compete at such a high level and still be considered the best.”

Another addition to the résumé of Rider Cheerleading was its finish in the top 10 of STUNT The Sport, the recently developed format for competitive collegiate cheerleading. Rider has only participated in this sport for two seasons.

With STUNT beginning to emerge in all corners of the nation, the Broncs had to compete with some of the top college teams in the country: Delaware, Davenport, Michigan State, Hofstra and Texas A&M.

Voorhees-Carcaci believes that receiving this honor was well-deserved.

“Our cheerleaders are committed to being the best athletes they can be,” she said. “We scored higher than we did in any previous year and put on a great show for the crowd. Besides winning this fourth straight title, I believe we gave a performance that was deserving of the championship.”

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