Hornet cheer team places second in UCA championships

Marshall Hampson

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The Sacramento State cheerleading squad participated in the 2010 Universal Cheerleading Association College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship, held Jan. 15-18 in Orlando, Fla.

The team finished second overall in the small coed category and had a team place in the top 10 in the partner stunt finals.

Small coed and partner stunt member Becca Virgadamo went to nationals for the first time this year and said she was happy with the results.

“Even though first place would’ve been nice, getting second place for my first time at nationals was an incredible feeling.” Virgadamo said.

The small coed group featured 16 members, including members from both partner stunt squads. However, the top-10 finishes didn’t come easy.

Head coach Bobby Biggs and the team had to fight through some injuries to Ryan Stock and Hillery Swanson. Stock suffered a pinched nerve in his back and Swanson had to deal with a groin injury.

“They dealt with the pain and performed at a high level to help accomplish a goal for our team,” Biggs said.

The result was a second-place finish for the small coed. The Hornets placed right behind Hofstra University but finished ahead of cheer power houses University of Oklahoma and Villanova University.

In the category of partner stunt, groups are formed of only four girls from the squad. This year was the first year Sac State ever sent a group to nationals for the category. The Hornets sent two squads.

The foursome of Izzy Collum, Anahid Tatosian, Krista Hillenbrand and Maggie Stephens was able to take eighth place in the nation, while the group of Ashley Berry, Kori Thomas, Deija Joe and Virgadamo finished in 11th place.

“I’m so proud of my group and everything we have accomplished. Eighth in the nation is a great feeling,” Hillenbrand said.

The partner stunt squads could not overcome the performances by Hawaii Pacific University, Hofstra University, and the University of Louisville.

Early-morning practices became more stressful when it got closer to Florida because the routine had to be top-notch to compete with the other universities.

“When we would get frustrated in practice, we’d shake it off because being mad wasn’t going to help the situation,” Virgadamo said. “If we weren’t friends, it would have made practicing so much more difficult.”Sac State has only placed at nationals in 2003, 2004, and 2009 before this year.

Hillenbrand, a fifth-year senior, said she wanted to finish her cheer career on top.

“I am sad to say I will not be returning to Sac State cheer next year,” Hillenbrand said. “Someday if I decide to continue on to grad school, I would love the chance to join the team again. But as for now, my cheerleading career is done.”

Biggs said he is proud of his team.

“It feels really rewarding to see the hard work that has been done pay off for our school and our cheerleading program,” Biggs said. “Their success has made this year one of most successful years in our program history.”

Marshall Hampson can be reached at mhampson@statehornet.com