Calm and confident.
A mantra used by the Mount Sinai cheerleading crew this season and for good reason.
According to the squad, they’ve experienced their fair share of turbulence. A bumpy ride filled with stomach churning lows but also free flying highs.
“I’d compare this season to a roller coaster,” co-coach Megan McWain said.
Her co-coach Christina Lotito added, “Like any cheer team, we went through our ups and downs. Plenty of bumps in the road but Mount Sinai is a top team. If the girls were down one meet, they were going to come back strong in the next meet.”
The Mustangs have a history of being an elite squad on Long Island and this season they were looking to continue that reign.
They placed first in Large Varsity at the UCA Empire Regional meet in Garden City on Dec. 12, their eighth win in the past nine years. That bought them a ticket to the UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship.
There, in Orlando on Feb. 10th, the Mustangs won first place in Large Varsity Division II, bringing home their first Nationals win since 2016, their third overall.
The next stop for the Mustangs is the NYS Cheerleading Championships in Rochester on March 2, familiar territory.
Along with their Nationals win in 2016, Mount Sinai won the coed division at the inaugural state championship. The Mustangs want to flip 2016 into 2019 and bring home another state title.
“The routine we have this year is the most difficult one Mount Sinai has put together,” senior captain Atalia Fragoletti said. “It’s hard to stay on top. We have such high standards as a program, which is stressful, but this year we met those standards.”
The Mustangs started the competition year off on a high note, getting back into the win column at national regionals after losing for the first time in seven years last season.
The first three meets of the Suffolk season saw the Mustangs in a steady second place, losing in one meet by .75 points. Then the Mustangs hit an injury patch. It landed them in last place in another Suffolk meet.
“Every time we had an injury or a setback, we knew we had to come back harder and stronger,” senior captain Isabella Takacs said.
Vittoria Legaspi, also a senior captain, added, “Bumps in the road showed us that whatever happens, we couldn’t let it push us down. With strength and positivity, we could move forward and push through.”
The Mustangs pushed through to a first-place win in the next meet. After another bout of bad luck, they won the final Suffolk meet right before Nationals.
The rest is in the books. Mount Sinai went on to win Nationals, sticking one of their most difficult routines. The hard part: All five stunt groups completing a 1-to-1 high-to-high, where the bases bring the flyer up on one foot, then twirl her at the highest point.
It’s a stunt the girls have been trying to stick since last year.
“It’s an elite skill at the high school level,” Lotito said. “But the girls weren’t backing down.”
The Mustangs will take their “never back down” attitude into the state competition and beyond.
“At states we just have to stay calm and confident,” Takacs said. “I hope after we leave, Mount Sinai continues to progress and get more and more skillful each year”
Legaspi added, “There were a lot of younger girls on the team this year who never won Nationals, never had the chance to win a state title. Now the girls understand how the team works and all the hard work we put into it. This team will push through, hopefully for a long time.”