PSU Cheerleaders perform at National Championships

            ORLANDO, Fla. - The Plymouth State University varsity cheerleading team recently competed at the 2008 College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championships at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, and got a taste of what it takes to compete at that level.

            The Panthers were one of 12 schools competing in their division, which included all-girl teams from both Division II and III.  PSU put on a strong two-and-a-half minute routine, according to head coach Carrie Kiley, but the team did not advance past the semifinals.

            "The ladies really did a great job of hitting their routine," said Kiley.  "They hit all their stunts and really won the crowd over with their dance.  We had an injury two days before we went down there and had to make some changes to the routine.  We went a little conservative and I think that cost us."

            There were more than 300 teams from all over the country in all divisions competing, including most of the top teams in college cheerleading.  This was Plymouth State's first visit to the competition since becoming a varsity team in 2006.

            "The experience was amazing and now we have a better idea of what the judges are looking for," said Kiley.  "We have already set a goal for next year of making the finals."

            This year's team is led by junior captains Erica Barnhart (Nashua, N.H./Nashua South) and Ashley Smith (West Barnstable, Mass. /Barnstable).

            A video of all of the team's performances at the national championships, including Plymouth State, is available to view online at

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