John Breden, Austin Replogle and Brandon Hall –– the male members of Mepham High School’s co-ed varsity cheerleading team –– posed for a photo with the Universal Cheerleaders Association’s Northeast Regional Championship first-place trophy after the competition at the end of November. When they passed the trophy to their teammates, the boys couldn’t help breaking into a dance in celebration of the squad’s continued success.
“We were having a lot of fun,” Breden said. “We went out there and we owned it.”
The boys weren’t only happy about winning the competition — they were elated that the squad had earned a spot in the national cheerleading championships, held annually at Walt Disney World in Orlando in February. Coaches and cheerleaders said they now hope to build on last year’s success at the nationals, where they finished fifth in their division.
Nicole Kyriacou, who has coached the Mepham squad for nine years, said that the team, which comprises about 30 students, beat out more than 20 squads at the recent northeast regional championship.
Kyriacou said the squad was shooting for a bid to compete in Florida on Feb. 8-9, but they could not have predicted how the competition would go. “You never really know what’s going to happen,” she said. “We practice for so many hours every day, and it all comes down to two minutes. It helps that this is a group that is so driven and dedicated. You can’t teach self-motivation, and that’s what they need to succeed.”
Squad members learned their technique and work ethic from last year’s seniors, which led the Pirates to a fifth-place finish in the Small Varsity Coed II division at the nationals last February, Kyriacou said.
Hall said he looks forward to seeing what teams around the country can do at the 2014 contest, and that they should watch out for Mepham.
Replogle added that he hopes this year’s squad can match the standard set by previous teams. “We wanted to carry on what they had done last year, if not get better,” he said. “Confidence has been key.”