Southwest varsity squad finishes sixth in division at national competition
The Southwest High varsity cheer squad finished sixth at the Universal Cheerleaders Association¿s National HIgh School Cheerleading Championship in February in Orlando, Fla. (PHOTO COURTESY OF TAMARI SAIKHON)
“Out of 10,000 participants, 475 squads, and 33 states represented, we got sixth in the nation in our division,” Southwest cheer coach Denise Harrison said.
“This is absolutely the highest we’ve placed,” she said. “We had one fall, and if not for that we would have scored third, but that’s OK because I’m really proud of them.”
All 25 members of the Eagles varsity cheer squad got to compete in the prestigious nationals Feb. 11-12. The squad was even joined this year by its junior varsity counterpart, which placed seventh in its first appearance at the nationally televised event on ESPN.
“They benefited by getting to see this type of competition at this level on such a huge scale,” Harrison said of her girls. “They come from a small community, but they got to go out there and see such a large event.
“It kind of reaffirms for them that they are true athletes and what they did was so amazing,” she said. “Some of them had never left California, others had never been in an airplane before this, so it was really a multifaceted experience.”
Harrison explained that if it wasn’t for the many individuals and businesses that pitched in, these Eagles wouldn’t have soared anywhere this month.
“We really appreciate the Imperial Valley and all of our sponsors that got us there,” she said. “We’re at one of the highest unemployment levels in the country, yet they still supported us for everything.”
With the team’s best finish in five years of competing at the Universal Cheerleaders Association’s National High School Cheerleading Championship, Harrison is already setting her sights higher next year.
“We’re going to try our very hardest, and we’re going to try to place even higher, to bring back a bigger trophy,” she said.