by Anton Onato

Photos by Marlon Nombrado and Luis Adrian Hidalgo

UPDATED Sept. 16, 11:46 p.m.

The National University notched a historic first-ever UAAP Cheerdance Competition championship title as they bested three-peat defending champion University of the Philippines, in front of 20, 830 spectators, Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

NU Pep Squad tallied 696.5 points with their Sahara-themed routine, while UP Pep Squad’s party-themed routine fell behind with 620.5 points. De La Salle University finished third with their Army-themed routine, garnering 596.5 points.

The Bulldogs, who improved to a third place finish last year from a measly sixth place performance in 2011, dominated and topped almost all the  technical departments (tumbling, stunts, tosses, and pyramids). They placed second in dance behind UP Pep Squad.

“Dun talaga kami nagfocus sa dance kasi dun kami mahina last year. However, magaling talaga ang UP sa sayaw. Hands down ng sobra (We really focused on dance because that’s our weakness last year. UP is really good in dancing. Hands down,” said Adrian Alban, NU’s team captain.

Alban also thanked the UP crowd who cheered for their victory during the event.

“Kahit na hindi kami taga UP, naramdaman pa din namin ‘yung pagmamahal ninyo at pagsuporta sa amin. Alam kong competition ‘to pero pinakita ninyo na marunong kayong umappreciate ng ibang school (Even though we’re not from UP, we still felt your love and support for us. I know this is a competition, but you showed us that you know how to appreciate other schools),” said Alban.

Despite four major falls in their routine, the UP Pep Squad remained positive that they will pull off another podium finish. “Iba kasi ‘yung degree of difficulty ng mga stunts namin (Our stunts are on a different degree of difficulty),” said captain Lian Melegrito.

Meanwhile, NU also topped the Group Stunt competition while Far Eastern University and University of Santo Tomas finished second and third, respectively. La Salle’s Ana De Leon was named this year’s Samsung Stunner.

The top three teams received P340,000, P200,000 and P140,000 respectively. Rounding up the competition were last year’s runner-up FEU, Adamson University, University of the East, UST and Ateneo de Manila University finishing fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth place.

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