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LI schools win awards at national cheerleading championships

The local high school teams that participated in the National Dance Alliance (NDA) High School Dance National Championships, March 7-11, at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla., represented Long Island in fine fashion.

Smithtown West won its third consecutive Small Kick category (15-and-under) title with its scenic performance in the tango ballroom kick routine.

"Every year, we came into practice with the mentality that we have to be here," said Varsity Whisperettes senior captain Jessica Cichy, who is committed to SUNY Cortland. "We knew what we had to do that day."

Cichy is one of four captains for Smithtown West. The others are seniors Christina Canaletich, Gabby Del Priore and junior Sophia Chonis. Cichy explained that the team's perseverance throughout the fall and winter seasons battling the weather conditions was instrumental to the Varsity Whisperettes success.

"They were good kids who worked really hard to get where we needed to get," said Smithtown West coach Tara Foglia.

Sachem North went back-to-back in winning the Small Varsity Jazz Division championship. Bellport took second in the Small Hip Hop Division. Sachem North also placed third in Team Performance, Pom and Hip Hop.

"It's the first time in school history that we placed in all three," said Dave Maczkiewicz, Sachem North's assistant coach under head coach Katie Prusinski. "Last year, we were out of our minds. This year, it was more enjoyable."

Bellport also won the innovative choreography award in the Hip Hop Division, while taking seventh in team performance and seventh in the Jazz category.

"This was the highest placement in Bellport history," said Clippers head coach Kristin Olsen. "Our goal was to make finals in two out of the three dances and we made it in all three. We exceeded our expectations."

Other placement winners were Commack, which finished first in Medium Jazz and Large Kick. Sachem East finished runner-up in Large Hip Hop and East Islip made finals in Large Pom. Bethpage made finals in Small Kick and Medium Pom. Walt Whitman made the finals in Small Jazz and Small Kick.

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