KISSIMMEE -- The road to the state competitive cheerleading finals ended in heartache Saturday for Cardinal Gibbons.
After logging the top score in the semifinals of the Class 1A medium varsity division earlier in the day, the Chiefs fell just a tenth of a point shy of their first state cheerleading championship since 2009.
Largo Indian Rocks Christian scored an 81.2 to come away with the title at Osceola Heritage Park’s Silver Spurs Arena. Cardinal Gibbons was credited with an 81.1 score, in what coach Susan Hanks said was the team’s best effort during an up-and-down season.
“They were phenomenal,” Hanks said following the routine. “We had some problems in the past, like most other teams, but we were able to overcome them and peak at the right time.”
But it wasn’t enough as Indian Rocks snuck out the win on the judge’s scorecards after being one of three teams to qualify for the final round with 69.4 points in the semis.
Cardinal Gibbons’ cheerleaders were visibly shaken by the decision once their name was called as the Class 1A runner-up. Despite some noticeable errors their first time out, the 78.1 semifinal points for the Chiefs edged out Auburndale (77.2) for the top score among the 12 semifinalists.
Cardinal Gibbons looked even better in the finals.
It appeared to show major improvements on the floor following otherwise disappointing runner-up finishes at districts and regionals.
Hanks pointed to the group’s showmanship and one-legged stunt as proof of the progress that was made this season for a group featuring five seniors and eight freshmen.
“It’s hard to believe. I’m terribly disappointed,” Hanks said of the final decision. “It’s a subjective sport, but they gave a great performance, and that’s all you can do.”
In all, a total of 16 champions were crowned during the three-day event.
Florida Christian (Class 1A large) and Dade Christian (Class 1A small) missed out on advancing through the semifinals of their respective divisions Saturday, as did Cooper City (Class 2A large).