ORLANDO, Fla. -- For the first time in their history, the Ole Miss spirit groups reached the finals in all three of their routines at the UCA/UDA College National Championships Sunday at the Walt Disney World Resort.
The Rebel Cheerleaders ended a 15-year drought in the competition with a 14th-place finish a year ago and improved on that showing this season, placing 12th in the nation. This year marked only the second time for the Rebelettes to compete in both the hip hop and jazz divisions, and they notched 13th and 17th place honors, respectively.
“Division 1A is the most competitive division in both cheer and dance and only a few teams are able to qualify with all three routines,” said Amanda Hoppert, Ole Miss’ Coordinator of Spirit Groups.
The Cheerleaders turned in a strong outing despite being forced to change their routine mere days before the Championships. Two members of the squad, who have now recovered, were injured during the halftime performance of the men's basketball game the Wednesday night before the trip. An alternate girl was inserted, and some adjustments were made.
"The squad really came together and had great team work," Hoppert said. "We were so excited to hit a clean routine at Nationals. Unfortunately, we were not rewarded like we had hoped, as other teams had several falls and placed a head of us."
Under the direction of Coach Carley Russell, the Rebelettes were seeded sixth entering the finals of the hip hop division. Historically, scores tend to build as the competition goes on, and Ole Miss drew the unlucky opening spot in the order of performance for the final day. The team finished outside the top 10 in hip hop despite a solid showing.
“When I look back on the weekend it was so great for both teams to come so far," said Hoppert. "It was great how the cheerleaders were there cheering on the dancers and vice versa."
The Southeastern Conference was well represented with six teams in the cheer finals including Kentucky, who won its record 17th title. Alabama finished second while LSU tied for fifth place. Tennessee and Mississippi State also joined Ole Miss on Sunday.