By Matt Green
DAYTONA BEACH – With three competitive cheerleading national titles already in hand, Shorter University has placed itself on the verge of securing a fourth ring – and with some good fortune, maybe even one for the thumb.
The Cheer Hawks have put themselves in position to capture a pair of NAIA national championships at the 2012 NCA Collegiate National Championship with two strong performances on the opening day of the two-day event held in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Shorter’s Small Coed stands in first place after Thursday’s preliminary round. Small Coed posted a score of 8.945 to go into Friday’s finals with a rather sizeable lead over Missouri Valley College, which scored an 8.798. Indiana Wesleyan (8.485), Martin Methodist (7.923) and St. Ambrose (7.828) will compete alongside Shorter and Missouri Valley in tomorrow’s final round.
Small Coed’s routine rated as the most difficult of any of the nine squads in the NAIA small coed division. Shorter’s raw score of 9.295 is the only routine worth more than 9.0 points and a near flawless performance on Friday would all but gift wrap a national championship in Small Coed’s first year as a program – Shorter transitioned its All-Girl squad, winners of the school’s first three cheerleading national championships, to Small Coed this season.
Shorter’s Large Coed finished Thursday’s preliminary round in second place by a slim margin behind Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City nipped Shorter’s Large Coed by hundredths of a point in last year’s NAIA national championship at the NCA event, but the Cheer Hawks head into Friday’s finals in hot pursuit. Oklahoma City scored 9.083 to take the lead into tomorrow’s action while Shorter will try and rally after posting a score of 8.965. Mid-America Nazarene (8.005) joins Oklahoma City and Shorter in Friday’s finals.
A national championship for the Large Coed’s would end three years of near misses that has seen the Cheer Hawks record a pair of national runner-up finishes and a fourth place finish in Daytona.