HISTORY was made in the UAAP Cheerdance Competition on Sunday courtesy of National University, which won its maiden championship in the 19-year history of the event.
Working behind a flawless Sahara-inspired performance, the NU Cheer Squadron bested seven other cheerdance teams including three-time champion University of the Philippines Pep Squad, finishing with the best score of 696.5 points.
Tears were shed and pandemonium broke out once NU was declared winner before a crowd of 20,830 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
NU placed third last year for its very first podium finish.
“Sobrang saya kasi ang goal namin is baguhin ang perception ng tao,” said NU Pep Squad coach Ghicka Bernabe. “Sino ba naman ang NU, lagi lang naman UP, FEU, at UST.”
"Last year goal namin top three, this year champion na. Dati it's just a dream, but now reality na. Hindi pa nga nagsi-sink in sa amin," she added.
It was a double celebration for the cheerleaders in blue and gold as they also emerged champions in the Group Stunts Competition.
UP Pep Squad, trying to become the tournament’s winningest team as it vies for a ninth championship, was a far second behind NU with a score of 620.5 points.
From going bald last season, the Diliman-based team wore curly hairs this time and danced behind a party-inspired theme.
However, the team committed a lot of falls during the six-minute performance that cost it a fourth straight title.
"Somehow nararapat 'yung placing kasi marami kaming laglag compared sa nanalong team. Flawless sila," said a humble UP Pep Squad assistant coach NJ Antonio.
The La Salle Green Animo Squad settled for third place with 596.5 points as it made it back to the podium behind a military-inspired theme based on the blockbuster movie Praybeyt Benjamin with comedian Vice Ganda on the starring role.
"Ina-admire ko kasi talaga si Vice Ganda, kaya na-inspire ako sa movie niya," admitted DLSU Animo Squad coach Rhufa Rosario.
La Salle had an extra treat as standout member Anna de Leon won the Samsung Stunner award.
Last year's second placer Far Eastern University Cheerdance Squad missed a podium finish for the first time in 11 years as it placed fourth with 589.5 points, followed by Adamson (559.5), and University of the East.
Eight-time champion University of Santo Tomas was a big disappointment as the famed Salinggawi Dance Troupe placed seventh with 546 points, its worst finish since the start of the competition in 1994.
Salinggawi performed an Egyptian-inspired theme but no human pyramids were formed.
Ateneo finished at the bottom of the field with 514 points.