Hofstra University’s cheer and dance teams dominated at the 2013 College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship last weekend.
The Division I college’s cheerleading team took home the national title for the fifth consecutive year and its dance team became the reigning hip-hop champion for the second year.
From Jan. 18-20, cheer and dance teams from 55 colleges across the country competed at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Wrapping up the weekend, Hofstra competed against colleges from Ecuador, Puerto Rico, Canada, England, Japan, Costa Rica, Mexico and Germany in the World University Championship.
Wearing a Mardi Gras inspired dress, Hofstra dance team captain Keri Olsen performed a duet with her partner to Britney Spears’ “Hold It Against Me,” clinching first in doubles jazz.
“After winning last year, people didn't even know about us and this year everyone was watching us,” said Olsen, 22, of Medford. “It was nerve-racking to fight to keep our title, but we did it. This is a great way to finish out my senior year.”
In the national championship, the cheer team placed first in all-girl partner stunt and the small coed division, while the dance team placed first in hip hop and second in jazz.
Then in the world championship, Hofstra’s cheer team placed first in all-girl group stunt and its dance team placed first in doubles jazz and second in dance team jazz.
Cheerleading coach Christine Farina said after the semifinals, her team was ranked fourth, so going into the finals her team quickly regrouped to pump themselves up to defend their title.
“It was a defining moment for us to find out how badly we wanted to defend our national titles,” said Farina, 35, of Westchester.
It didn’t surprise dance team head coach Kelly Olsen-Leon that her dancers took first place in the hip-hop category two years in a row and won second place in jazz.
“I wasn't shocked because we worked really, really hard,” said Olsen-Leon, 31, of Central Islip. “There was a lot of pressure because everyone knew we did well last year. It was a big relief to know that we could do it again.”
To close out her last year at Hofstra, cheerleader Megan Peck, who graduated in December, helped her team win yet another national title.
“To be on this team has been a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget for the rest of my life,” said Peck, 22, of Lindenhurst. “We’re a family. We went into finals believing in each other and walked out on that mat to take care of business.”