Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Around the Bend Mandarin Cheerleaders Take Second at Nationals

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Around the Bend Mandarin Cheerleaders Take Second at Nationals

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Scanlan, Times-Union staff writer

Mandarin High School's Varsity Co-Ed Cheerleading Squad placed second Feb. 11 at the National High School Cheerleading Championship at Disney World, only a month after winning its third consecutive State Dance and Cheer Championship in as many years of competition.

The 20-member squad -- four men and 16 women -- won the state championship Jan. 20 against 18 other regional high schools at the Cheerleading Technique Camps-sponsored event at the Prime Osborn Convention Center under coach Ryan Andrews.

Then they faced 31 other high school squads at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex and made the first cut during preliminary competition. Against five other finalists, the squad came in second against a veteran team from Sparkman High School in Harvest, Ala., Andrews said.

"We went to nationals last year and they got seventh. This year, we went in there and got second. It was crazy," he said. "The team that won was from Alabama, and that program has been around for 20 years. They were winning championships when I was in high school. We really gave them a run for their money, but because of their experience and name, they might get a bit of an advantage."

Andrews, a professional coach at the Florida Elite All Stars training facility on the city's Westside, came in three years ago after that year's winning coach retired. The squad had four new freshmen members as well as four men, chosen from the high school's varsity and junior varsity cheerleading squads following tryouts in late April 2000.

The squad had to deal with a few injuries this past year, but Andrews said the squad trained hard for the state and national championships and it showed in the preliminaries, where they ranked very high.

"We have a great routine and they hit it two times in a row. We were ranked first after the preliminary round," he said. "They were relaxed the whole time. They felt a lot of pressure at the state championships because they were defending it. But at the nationals, they were composed, had fun and it worked to their advantage and they nailed it that night."

OTHER EVENTS OF INTEREST:

-- The St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum hosts a sunset/moonrise event atop its historic tower from 5:45 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27. Guests will meet at the Visitors Center at 5:45 p.m. Visitors can climb up the lighthouse tower to view the sunset and moonrise in the beautiful winter sky, accompanied by light refreshments and a champagne toast. Reservations are required, and it costs $12 a person for museum members and $15 a person for non-members. For reservations, call the museum at (904) 829-0745.

Then from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 16, the 10th annual Lighthouse Festival will be held on the light station grounds with living history activities, storytelling, arts and crafts, pony rides, live music, a baked goods contest and a Harbor Lights replica signing by Bill Younger from 11 a. …

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