Tarleton State University’s dance team, the Texan Stars, and the Texan Cheerleading squad along with members of the Plowboys and the Texan Rider mascot, each claimed national championships today at the NCA & NDA College Nationals in Daytona Beach, Fla.
The Texan Stars completed their season by claiming the program’s first-ever Division II team performance national title. Tarleton’s co-ed cheerleading squad was joined on stage by members of the Plowboys spirit organization, plus five members from the Texan Stars dance team, and captured the first-ever Division II national championship in a new NCA & NDA category, Game Day Performance.
Tarleton’s Texan Stars earned a bid to this year’s national competition while attending last summer’s NDA collegiate camp at SMU in Dallas. From there, the dance team was invited to Daytona Beach and competed in two rounds, which began yesterday with nine teams.
The Texan Stars were in first place among the six finalists heading into today’s finals round, ultimately resulting in the team claiming the championship banner and trophy.
“I cannot be more proud of these young ladies for winning the national championship,” said Texan Stars coach Leticia Ryan-Carr, who’s in her 14th year leading the dance team. “These girls are so dedicated and hard-working, and I’ve said from day one that there is something very special about this group. They’ve wanted to win the national title and fought hard to the end, staying up late the night before to perfect their performance ahead of the finals round. They are very deserving of their win, and the Tarleton community can be extremely proud of their amazing accomplishment.”
The dance team performance is an all-around competition that includes three styles of dance: jazz, pom and hip-hop. Teams are limited to a two-minute performance and are judged on performance impression, uniformity, staging and collegiate image, plus each of three areas of jazz, pom and hip-hop quality and choreography, Ryan-Carr explained.
Judges’ comments following the team’s title-winning performance included: “Way to attack the fast opening; Variety and skills are very strong; and the Energy change in hip-hop was very engaging.”
The Texan Stars began practicing for their nationals routine in February. In addition to the Division II national championship, the Texan Stars claimed the Innovative Choreography award.
Tarleton’s combined spirit groups are also returning to campus with a national championship trophy after winning the first-ever NCA Game Day Performance for Division II. The 30-member group included 18 Texan cheerleaders, the Texan Rider mascot, five Texan Stars and six Plowboys.
The new Game Day Division competition provides a unique and exciting opportunity for university spirit groups to work together and showcase their ability to promote spirit and excitement in support of their school and its athletic teams. The competition requires a three-minute routine that includes three sections: Crowd Leading, Band Chant and Fight Song—each lasting one minute.
Tarleton was among seven Division II teams competing for the title in both preliminary and finals rounds, and were ranked second after the first day of competition.
“We made some modifications to our routine ahead of the finals round on Friday, and those changes were enough to capture the national title,” said cheer coach Blaine Hamilton, now in her fourth year leading the spirit programs.
The combined spirit groups began practicing for the national competition in February and heavily modified their routine just two weeks ago, as well as the night before the finals round.
“This game day performance is something we do nearly every day back on campus to support our athletic teams, but the students worked many hours to perfect this particular championship routine,” Hamilton said. “I told the group that they needed to leave it all on the mat, and I couldn’t be more excited and proud of them today upon claiming the first-ever Game Day national title. They wore the purple ‘Tarleton’ on their chests, and wore it proudly!”
Members of Tarleton’s Texan Stars national championship dance team are Victoria Abowd, Breanne Alling, Hannah Blankenship, Maria Castro, Taylor Givens, Amber Hallowell, Madison Jordan, Danielle Montemayor, Madison Steger, Mackenzie Tambunga and Symphony Wiessner. The team is assisted by graduate assistant and former Texan Star Brianna Scott.
Representing the Tarleton cheerleaders in the Game Day Performance routine were Amanda Knight, Ashleigh Fox, Autum White, Bailee Higdon, Carson McCleskey, Haven Atwood, Jacob Reyes, Jason Kaempf, Jill Rutherford, Kylar Mercer, Madison Evans, Mason Reichenau, Shelby Digby, Tabitha Meador, Tori Esquivel, Tyler Frank, Victoria Baudendistel and Trask Brown. Tarleton Plowboys included Lee Smith, Martin Wright, Payton Pollard, Richard Kimbrell Jr., Trevor Barcheers and Tyrell Neumeier. Texan Stars joining the combined group were Madison Jordan, Amber Hollowell, Danielle Montemayor, Mackenzie Tambunga and Victoria Abowd. Laramie Gambrell is the Texan Rider mascot .