USI Nationals

Roberto Campos

For two minutes and thirty seconds all the lights and eyes in the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Disney World were fixed on the USI cheer team and after pulling off a picture perfect routine experienced something shy of a fairy tell ending.

This past Saturday the USI cheer team traveled to Orlando, Fl to compete in the 2012 Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) College Cheerleading Team National Championship competition and placed fourth in Division II Small Coed.

At the moment of learning their placing all the joy and happiness that filled the cheer team from pulling of a perfect routine was sucked out of them and replaced with confusion and disappointment.

Tawne Bucherl, reluctant about their placing, accepted the trophy on behalf of the USI cheer team.

“It was really hard for me and the team, I don’t always think my team should get first, but at that point I knew we deserved more than fourth place,” all-girl base Bucherl said. “As much as it sucked, and it really sucked, to go up and accept a fourth place trophy, I was proud of my team and what we did at nationals.”

Last year at the UCA national’s competition USI placed second, the second time under Head Coach John Stuteville’s career at USI, and were determined to take home gold this year.

“Last year we placed second and it was close and none of thought that we should have lost,” coed stunter Martin Deason said. “I am disappointed in the scores because we hit our routine perfectly and the scores and placing doesn’t reflect that. I personally believe we should have placed second, Wilmington University had a great routine and deserved to win, but fourth isn’t what we should have placed.”

Judging for UCA competition is subjective and is based upon difficulty, crowd interaction, entering and exiting stunts and other components can be viewed differently from judge to judge.

“What makes a winning team is a team that can cerograph to their score sheets and to their strengths and hide their weaknesses,” Matt McDonough, who works with the International Cheer Union, said. “There is a little craftsmanship and coaches putting together their routine so that they distract from their weaknesses and highlight their strengths, but they try and make judging less subjective as possible by having set criteria.”

With a bitter sweet taste left in their mouths from a placing that they believed they didn’t deserve, Stuteville harbored words of wisdom after the awards ceremony.

“In six years this routine that they put on at this year’s nationals was the best that they have ever performed overall,” Stuteville said. “The kids did the best possible job that they could, there was nothing more that they could do.”

Prior to UCA nationals the cheer team suffered injuries and important people quitting that affected the depth of the team.