By Chad Waller, Director of Athletics Communications and Sports Media
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The 2nd annual NAIA Competitive Cheer & Dance National Championships will be conducted on the campus of Oklahoma City University from March 9 – 10. There will be 12 competitive cheer programs and 12 competitive dance programs participating over the two-day stretch. Three institutions – Midland (Neb.), Oklahoma City and St. Ambrose (Iowa) – send both squads to the national championships.
Aquinas (Mich.) kicks-off the preliminary round of competitive cheer competition at 4:30 p.m. CST on Friday in Abe Lemons Arena. Competitive dance preliminary competition sees Martin Methodist (Tenn.) begin the routines at 6:45 p.m. On Saturday, the finals in each of the two sports is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. (dance) and 12:15 p.m. (cheer) with the awards ceremony set to go at 2:25 p.m.
Last year, Oklahoma City won the competitive cheer national championships with a score of 87.08, defeating second-place Saint Francis (82.93). Seven institutions are back on the mats for their second-straight championships appearance.
On the competitive dance side, Midland was crowned 2017 national champion in the inaugural event. The Warriors were on the winning side with a score of 91.38, better than second-place Aquinas by nearly five points (86.63). Ten of the 12 programs return that competed at the 2017 national championships. The championships field is comprised of eight qualifying group team champions (four dance, four cheer), which won their respective qualifier group event, held Feb. 23-24 at four campus locations. In addition to that group, 16 at-large berths filled out the 24-team national championships. At-large berths were awarded to teams with the highest qualifying team score amongst the entire field competing at all four qualifiers.
The NAIA continues to be an Association of “firsts” as the NAIA is the only collegiate athletics association to offer a national championship in these two sports. For the 2016-17 season, the NAIA added the 24th and 25th national championship sports to the line-up. The evolution of the sport began in 2009 when the NAIA-CCD Executive Coaches Committee was formed. Since that time, a Coaches’ Manual was published and the first-ever CCD rule book was created. The national championship status became official at the 75th annual NAIA National Convention (April 16, 2016) when membership approved the motion.