The Mt. Sinai cheerleading team poses atfer winning the Division II...

The Mt. Sinai cheerleading team poses atfer winning the Division II large schools championship. Credit: Christine Kearns

Championships are becoming a habit for the Mount Sinai cheerleading team.

After capturing the program’s second state title last season, the Mustangs defended their Division II large crown in historic fashion on March 7 at the Rochester Institute of Technology, becoming the first Suffolk squad to win back-to-back.

With 93.63 points, Mount Sinai was the highest-scoring team of the day.

“We really, really wanted it. To get another ring and another championship for our team,” said senior side base Sydney Kearns. “Going out there and hitting twice with every single person on the mat, it was so fun.”

Of course, any title defense also brings a bit of pressure and Mount Sinai coach Megan Wesolowski conceded it wasn’t always easy for the Mustangs to balance that with their own expectations.

“We’re a very competitive program, so the goal is to always win everything,” Wesolowski said. “Especially coming off wins, because they want to do it again. They want to compete and continue building a dynasty.”

That dynasty took a bit of a hit in February when Mount Sinai fell short in defending its title at the National High School Cheerleading Championships at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

The Mustangs felt a sting of disappointment walking off the mat and while the finish easily could have derailed the team, Kearns said it actually proved the opposite.

“This year, going into states, without a national championship, it put a fire under us,” Kearns added.

Wesolowski echoed the sentiment, saying: “It’s difficult because you always want to win, but you have to manage your expectations. We try to instill in the girls that it’s important to get to that win, but it’s even more important how you get there.”

The Mustangs retooled their routine ahead of the state meet, working on execution and fine-tuning every stunt instead of focusing on difficulty.

The plan worked perfectly as the new routine took off some of the pressure Mount Sinai had been dealing with all year. And, following the preliminary round at state, the squad found itself in first place, all but bursting with confidence.

“Those harder stunts are what really makes the nerves set in,” said senior back spot Kayli Kunzler. “Now it was an easier routine and we went out there and knew we could do it. We’d done it a million times and it was our time to shine.”

Mount Sinai did just that in the finals, and while the squad was proud of its routine there was still some anxious energy as the Mustangs awaited the results.

That didn’t last long.

Champs again, Mount Sinai erupted into cheers of the celebratory variety as soon as the team was presented with its plaque and medals, a sense of absolute joy that the team is hoping to experience for years to come.

“It meant so much,” Kunzler said. “This program holds a special place in my heart and I can’t wait to watch them hopefully succeed again next year because we need that three-peat title.”

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