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Union-Endicott Cheer – Athletes of the Week

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ENDICOTT (WBNG) -- The Union-Endicott cheer team will be Florida bound this week as they get set to compete in the UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship. The Tigers have competed in nationals before, but this season they're aiming to reach new heights.

Two minutes and thirty seconds is how long the Union-Endicott cheer team will have Saturday to hit their routine at Nationals.

"The journey has been, for this season, it's been very hectic I would say," said coach Andrea Guccia.

Back in November, the Tigers had four days after team tryouts to put together a routine for qualifiers.

"We qualified, we got second in our division. We lost first place to a team that was sixth in nation by seven tenths of a point," said coach Guccia.

But this year they'll look to reach new heights at Nationals.

"My goal is to make it past prelims," said senior captain Lizzie Bilotta.

"It's such a goal for people who haven't been to nationals. We're all striving for that," said junior captain Elizabeth Haley.

In the weeks leading up to Nationals, the base of the Tigers training is conditioning.

"They need to make sure they are ready to go and they can breathe and they can run and do gymnastics and all in 2:30 and still say a cheer," said coach Guccia.

And Coach Guccia's twist? A wheel of death.

"We spin it, it will land on 'do your pyramid two times, do a full out, do your opening,' and we get all the reps in so we can feel confident," said Haley.

The worst to get on the wheel?

"Full out. Definitely full out," said Haley.

Execution.

"We can put up a difficult stunt but if it falls we're not going to be scored well," said coach Guccia.

And trust.

"With our team being close together, it really makes us communicate on the mat," said Bilotta.

Are what the tigers rely on when they take the mat.

"We are very lucky in the sense that we have a lot of these girls have been cheering together for a very long time, they're building those relationships together for years to come," said JV coach Julie Conroy.

And Saturday brings another opportunity for Union-Endicott cheer to get to the top.

"It really is a sense of pride. and just continuing that legacy, and that tradition, that has been built for years," said coach Guccia and coach Conroy.

The Tigers cheer team arrives in Florida on Thursday with prelims and semifinals taking place Saturday. Finals are held Sunday. The Chenango Forks and Chenango Valley cheer teams will also be competing at Nationals in Florida.

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Nicole Menner

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