Mount Sinai and Seaford high schools both won cheerleading state titles. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports from Binghamton. Credit: Newsday/Carissa Kellman

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — When you're the state’s most successful cheerleading squad, there’s pressure to perform.

But Mount Sinai will tell you that pressure is a privilege.

“Our coaches tell us that and we really take it to heart,” Ashley Kandell said. “We embrace the pressure and let it fuel our performance.”

The Mustangs won their fifth state title in the Division II small team category of the state cheerleading championships at Visions Veterans Memorial Arena Saturday afternoon. Plainedge finished second and Rocky Point placed third. MacArthur finished fourth in the Coed category.

While Mount Sinai put on an impressive sequence of tumbling passes and stunts, it was the squad’s high energy that Kandell and Alana Fragoletti say ultimately captivated the judges.

“We focus on improving and mastering our stunts, but at the same time we know that skill can only get you so far,” Fragoletti said. “The cheer is where the crowd can get involved and you can push yourself. We wanted the crowd and judges to feel our energy in our cheer and dance.”

“We just go out there and have fun with our routine and it shows,” Kandell added.

It was a performance that will be forever frozen in Kandell’s memory as Mount Sinai maintained its coveted spot atop the state championship pyramid.

The senior flyer was an eighth-grader when the program won its second state title and began its streak in 2019. This year, tears of joy fell from Kandell’s face as she witnessed that streak continue.

“All I could think in that moment was that our hard work truly paid off,” Kandell said. “[The seniors] felt it was our responsibility to teach that Mount Sinai mentality of working hard and staying humble to the younger girls this season. I couldn’t be prouder of them today.”

Seaford takes D-II large team title

Seaford competes in the Division II large team category at...

Seaford competes in the Division II large team category at the New York State cheerleading championships at Visions Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton, N.Y., on Saturday. Credit: Jorge Marcano

The seniors on the Seaford cheerleading team also hoped to instill a legacy in the program with a second straight state crown.

“We won for the first time last year and it was not only an amazing confidence boost but it left us hungry for more,” Arianna Congero said. “We wanted to leave this program with another win so next year, the girls know they have another title to chase.”

“They were driven by the chance of going back-to-back,” coach Lisa Ferrari said. “They wanted to make a lasting impression on this program. I’m speechless at the efforts these girls have put forward.”

Seaford executed a flawless routine and took the Division II large team category crown Saturday evening. Shoreham-Wading River finished second.

East Islip placed second and Farmingdale was third in the Division I small team category. Smithtown West finished third in the Division I large team category.

As the first of 15 schools to perform in the finals, Seaford had no time for nerves.

“There was no chance for us to be nervous,” Kayla Fallarino-Forte said. “We wanted to prove that we could go back-to-back and we worked so hard to get here that we honestly couldn’t wait to get on that mat and show why we deserved another title.”

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