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UK cheerleading wins 22nd national title; Morehead State also crowned

The Kentucky cheerleading team celebrated its 22nd national title Sunday in Orlando, Fla.
The Kentucky cheerleading team celebrated its 22nd national title Sunday in Orlando, Fla. Twitter: @kentuckycheer

Kentucky cheerleading won its 22nd national championship and second in a row Sunday night at the national cheerleading finals in Orlando, Fla. And UK’s dance team notched its best ever finish in its competition.

Kentucky scored a 97.8 out of a possible 100 points to win the co-ed Division IA of the Universal Cheerleaders Association College Nationals, edging fellow perennial power Alabama.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Coach Jomo Thompson said in a UK press release. “Our preparation went very well and we performed at a high level. Our emphasis (leading up to the competition) was doing our best and if we trusted in the process it would lead us to the championship.”

Kentucky has won the competition 22 out of its 33 years of competing and earned its first back-to-back titles since winning three in a row in 2008-10.

“This is the highest degree of difficulty we’ve ever had,” the Thompson said of the routine. “We added more acrobatic skills and more handstands, a good blend of cheers and acro. We executed it at a very high level.”

The Kentucky dance team took part in two of the possible three events at the Universal Dance Association competition that is held in conjunction with the cheerleading event in Orlando. The Cats 109.23 score in the Division IA hip-hop competition fell just short of Cincinnati’s 109.43. The Cats took fourth in the pom event behind Minnesota, Ohio State and Iowa.

“Our performance in hip-hop was incredible,” Coach Dawn Walters said. “The girls did everything they could. It was a pretty spotless routine. It was an emotional piece – an a capella song by Pentatonix – different, and very moving. The fans absolutely loved it, so many people told us how awesome it was.”

UK will honor the cheer and dance teams during the men’s basketball game against South Carolina on Saturday.

Also in cheerleading, Morehead State took home first place in Division I co-ed and came in second in the Division I all-girl competition. Morehead also took first place in the partner stunt co-ed event. Louisville teams finished second and third in the all-girl stunt event. Eastern Kentucky University took home sixth place in Division I co-ed. Western Kentucky came in fourth place all-girl Division I.

Fernando Alfonso III: 859-231-1324, @hlpublicsafety

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