Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tossing, Twisting and Winning; Fleming Island's Stunt Team on Top

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tossing, Twisting and Winning; Fleming Island's Stunt Team on Top

Article excerpt

Byline: TRACY SPENGLER

By winning a state championship and several national titles, the Fleming Island High stunt group is living up to its name: Hott.

Years of gymnastics, tumbling and cheerleading have paid off for the red-hot, five-member stunt group. These days, Fleming Island freshmen Tiffany Shults, Jenna DeBerry and Megan Zimmerly, and sophomores Courtney Bengston and Emerald Norman have a lot to cheer about.

Even though their days begin hours before sunrise, it's raw energy and boundless enthusiasm that radiates within these young athletes -- and has led them to an impressive record in the field of competitive cheerleading.

In January, the five-member stunt group (officially called the Florida Elite All-Stars Hott Senior Five) was undefeated in the 2005 State Cheer and Dance Championship, beating out seven groups.

"We had to perform a 1-minute routine," said Norman, 16, who has been cheering for nine years. "We make up our own choreography, and were presented with trophies, medals and jackets. It was totally cool."

In March, the group competed in Tampa for the Cheer Technique Company American Open Nationals, placing first and winning over 12 other stunt groups.

The girls also cheer for the Fleming Island High School Golden Eagles, and in March, closed out their competitive year by winning the 2005 High School Nationals at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.

"We beat 21 other stunt groups at that competition," said Shults, 15, who has been cheering for six years. "It was great, because we represented our school."

The stunt competitions are judged on aspects including stability, choreography, technique, degree of difficulty, transitions, creativity, tosses and routine perfection.

The group is undefeated in the Senior Stunt Division, and has also won the Gainesville Regional, Florida State Championships, Contest of Champions, the American Open and Clash of the Titans.

"The stunt groups are called quads, which are the bases for the group," said Bengston, 15, who has been cheering for nine years. …

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