by John Remil Isaga
NU bagged their three-consecutive championship titles in the UAAP Cheerdance competition. Judges gave them 688 points.
The National University Pep Squad completed a grand slam conquest in front of a record 25, 388 people in attendance during the 2015 UAAP Cheerdance Competition (CDC) held at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, Saturday.
While their caveman-themed performance was marred with a glaring error in one of their pyramid formations, the squad finished strong with a dazzling display of fast-paced acrobatic mastery to top the competition with 668 points.
Meanwhile, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Salinggawi Dance Troupe and University of the Philippines (UP) Pep Squad maintained their podium finishes from last year.
UST improved from their third place finish last year, grabbing the first runner-up plum this time with 651.5 points.
The crowd favorite UP Pep Squad, meanwhile, slipped down to second runner-up, from a bridesmaid finish last year, with 610.5 points.
Both UST and UP tallied their 20th podium finish and are still tied for the most podium finishes in UAAP Cheerdance history.
An emotional NU head coach Ghicka Bernabe thanked all who supported her and the pep squad, including the school management and her fellow coaches.
Bernabe, now on her fourth year as mentor of the Sampaloc-based cheerdancers, admitted that she started worrying about the judgment of her squad when NU started committing errors. However, she remained confident, assuring her performers and students that the four pyramids they executed were outstanding enough.
“Nung nagkamali yung performers ko sa isang pyramid, ang pumasok sa isip ko, ‘Teka lang, apat na pyramid yung nilaban ko eh. Not all the universities [ay] naglabas at nag-risk ng apat na mahirap na pyramid. So hindi kami naging worried na mabilis na maaagaw sa amin ‘yung championship na ‘to (When my performers missed a perfect pyramid, I thought about the four stunts we prepared. Not everyone risked to perform the same number and difficulty. We were not worried that the championship will be taken from us),’” stressed Bernabe.
Bernabe, an alumnus of the Far Eastern University (FEU) Cheering Squad, shared their biggest threat was themselves. “Last year, sino ba yung nag-champion?” she asked her dancers. “Sabi ko, ‘Tayo, ‘di ba (We won the championship last year, right)?”
She added, “Yung sarili nating standards ang tatalunin natin, walang iba. Bakit mo tatalunin yung mas mababa sa’yo (We should beat our own standards, and none else. Why would you defeat someone worse)?”
NU team manager Jun Gaw applauded the cheerdancers for raising the degree of difficulty of their gravity-defying stunts and breathtaking pyramids, despite having fifteen rookies on the team.
The NU Pep Squad now has three podium finishes, all of which are gold. They are also the third school to record a three-peat in the competition, after perennial contenders UP and UST.
NU also finished first runner-up at the Group Stunts Competition, with UST nabbing the gold and FEU finishing second runner-up.
Consolations for the UP Pep Squad were the best toss and best pyramid awards.
The FEU Cheering Squad placed fourth with 583.5 points, University of the East Pep Squad finished fifth with 583 points, De La Salle University Animo Squad was at sixth place with 538.5, Adamson University Pep Squad landed in seventh place with 513.5 points, and Ateneo de Manila University Blue Babble Battalion at eighth with 412 points.