The Texas Tech Pom Squad earned first place in both jazz and pom at the NCA & NDA Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championships in Daytona Beach, Florida.
What's better than one national title? Two.
The Texas Tech University Pom Squad, part of the Texas Tech Spirit Program, brought home first-place wins today (April 6) in the Dance Jazz Division IA and Pom Division IA categories at the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) & National Dance Alliance (NDA) Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championship in Daytona Beach, Florida.
This is the second consecutive year the team has taken the national title for jazz and the first time for pom. It was also the first time the team competed in the pom category.
“Yesterday, we were in first place in jazz and second in pom, but both were relatively close,” said Erin Alvarado, the seventh-year pom squad head coach. “Last night, we stayed up until after midnight, fixing things to put ourselves in the best position possible today.”
Alvarado said knowing it would be the last time this group of 25 dancers competed together made the competition that much more emotional. Stephanie Rhode, director of the Spirit Program, said she thinks those emotions had a major impact on the team.
“It was a beautiful performance,” Rhode said. “They were so emotionally invested and had such great energy. I think that's what put them over the top today – the energy and passion behind their moves.”
The jazz win was a major one for Texas Tech, Rhode added, because they bested the Brigham Young University (BYU) dance team, traditionally one of the top in the nation.
“It was a very tough competition against a historically high-quality team,” Rhode said. “We hope to now continue to be a team that also has that tradition of excellence.”
About seven minutes after learning the team had won jazz, they were back on stage, competing for the pom title.
“This is a historic victory, for Texas Tech Pom to win in two categories in one year,” Rhode said. “To go from winning one category, to jumping right back in a different style of dance and winning that – it's pretty dang remarkable.”
Texas Tech finished with a final score of 9.774 in jazz, just 0.048 points ahead of second-place BYU, which finished with 9.726 points. In pom, Texas Tech finished with 9.731 points, edging out Japan's Chuo University, which finished with a score of 9.720.
Texas Tech Cheer also completed at the competition, placing third in the Co-Ed Cheer category with 94.32 points, behind second-place Oklahoma State University, which finished with 96.30 points, and first-place University of Louisville, 96.92 points.
Bruce Bills, head cheer coach, said he was proud of the squad's performance.
“This was one of those routines where we took a risk and went hard, but it just wasn't our day,” Bills said. “I still believe in the cheer squad, and I think this experience will help us learn to trust each other more so we can come back with a stronger performance next year and work harder and smarter together.”
Alvarado said the squads' performances are a testament to the caliber of the Spirit Program and the Red Raiders who work hard every day to be the best they can.
“It speaks to our ability to continue moving forward,” Alvarado said. “We weren't happy with just winning one thing. We wanted to continue to elevate our program to be one of the top in the country. It also speaks to the type of students we are getting at Texas Tech. They are relentless and so dedicated to do anything, to put their best foot forward and to win. They deserved it today.”