The Gannon University competitive cheer team remains undefeated after finishing in first place during its first two events in February.
The Knights gained their first team victory at the Cheer for a Cure event in Niagara Falls, N.Y., on Feb. 2, when the team received 417.4 out of 480 possible points.
The Knights defeated National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Canisuis College by nearly 30 points.
Shannon Todd, a junior flyer, said she was extremely excited to be a part of the inaugural team at Gannon.
“I was a little nervous in the beginning since we all had so many different skills and had all done things differently,” Todd said. “But once we built the routine and were in sync with each other with all our skills, I knew we would be successful because we had such an awesome routine put together.
“It was hard to even tell that we were an inaugural team.”
Coach Meghan Foran was the captain of her collegiate competitive cheer team at Drexel University, and she said it helped her coaching career.
“When I was captain of the team at Drexel, we were very much in a building phase of that program as well, so there were a lot of ‘firsts’ for our team when I was captain,” Foran said. “Experiencing those ‘firsts’ as an athlete has definitely helped better prepare me to experience those ‘firsts’ as a coach of a new program, and also helps me guide my athletes through those experiences as well.”
The Knights traveled to Columbus, Ohio, and finished in the top position in their second competition, the AmeriCheer College U Championships, Saturday.
Foran said she didn’t necessarily expect this much success this fast, but she added that she was very confident in the team’s ability to execute its routine.
“Our goal for competition is always to go in and hit a clean, strong routine,” Foran said. “To then win both events, and by such a large margin each time, was a huge accomplishment for the team and something we were very excited about.”
Foran added that she thought there was room for improvement for her team.
“We did a great job of that at our first competition, but had some small errors at our second competition that we need to ensure don’t happen again,” Foran said. “Even with those errors, however, our execution scores were relatively high, and we’ll be focusing on adding some increased difficulty in our stunt and pyramid elements as well.”
Emily Mottillo, a senior base, explained the unique leadership dynamic of an inaugural team.
“I think we each step into that leadership position when it’s needed,” Mottillo said. “It’s our first and our last year on the team as seniors.
“I want to do whatever I can to help create a program with a rich and competitive tradition before I leave.”
Gannon’s next competition will be an all-day event at the Great Lakes Championships in Erie on March 15.
Foran said the team is gearing up for their next competition by working hard in practice.
“Before the Great Lakes Championship, the team needs to just keep working on their consistency,” she said. “We have several technical elements in our routine, and our goal is always to hit a deduction-free routine with high execution scores.”
Todd said she is pleased with her teammates’ efforts so far this season, and sees more first- place finishes on the horizon.
“I know we will continue to be successful and continue to have a great reputation with Gannon as the first inaugural competitive cheer team,” she said.