Two Bellarmine teams brought home national championships from the National Dance Alliance Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championships held in Daytona Beach, Fla., in early April.
The Cheer Team made history by winning that program’s first national championship, taking first place in Intermediate Small CoEd Division II. This was just the third national championship in which the team had competed. The Knights finished 16th in 2017 and third in 2018.
Coach Shannon Walker, who joined the program late in the 2016-17 season, said the Cheer Team “came in with the mindset this year that ‘We’re going to win,’” adding that the team asked for more difficult routines. “Everything they asked for, they got,” Walker said. “They worked hard for it. Never once as a team did they let each other down.”
The team members were seniors Adam VanRude, Adriel Wilson and Houston Wood; juniors Kenna Pancake and Jake Cox; sophomores Katie Hopper, Cori Carter, Emily Erato, Kaylie Goodlett and Taylor Glover; and first-year students Katy McWhorter, Mallory Tinker, Madison Lauter and Hannah Abell. Charli Knauer is the assistant coach.
The Dance Team won the Performance Division II competition, its second national title. The first was in 2015.
Coach Janine Klutka said that despite the team’s youthfulness, they competed like a much more experienced squad. “When you consider that, first off, this team is young— mostly freshmen and sophomores—and secondly, we are a small team with just nine on our roster, winning this national title becomes even more impressive,” she said. “This team of athletes walked onto that nationals stage with the maturity, poise and confidence needed to take that title.”
The members of the 2019 National Championship Team were Madison Brady, Kielee Gonzalez, Megan Justice, Kattiana Miller, Brianna Post, Emma Rhodes, McKenzie Ricklefs, Megan Sturgeon and Amy Walker. Assistant coaches are Megan Bryan, Megan Kanter and Taylor Thompson.