Mississippi Gulf Coast finished sixth Saturday in its second trip to the UCA College Cheerleading National Championship in Orlando, Fla.
"I'm proud of them," Gulf Coast coach Karlee Nobles said. "It didn't turn out the way we wanted it to, or the way we thought it should have, but I'm proud of them for stepping up and working hard, going into the finals and doing a good job."
The margins between top teams was very small. The Bulldogs were just tenths of a point away from improving on last year's third-place finish.
"It was very close, extremely close from second to sixth," Nobles said. "There was barely any difference."
The Bulldogs squad, the only community college team in the Small Coed Division II, advanced to the finals after finishing fourth among 11 teams in the semifinals Saturday morning.
"They recovered from a bad morning," Nobles said. "They started off the semifinals with a flawless routine then had a few mistakes. We didn't think we were going to make finals."
The team was enjoying one of the Disney parks Saturday night, and all competitors at the championships will get the run of one of the parks Sunday to blow off steam.
The 19-person Bulldogs team had 16 new members this year. That's one of the challenges competing in a division where they were the only two-year school.
"When you compete against universities, the athletes on the team have four years to work together," Nobles said. "The more time you spend with one another, the better off you are. At a community college, we're shipping kids out every year. We're rebuilding every single year."
She said she considered the second year of competitive cheer at Gulf Coast to be a success.
"They did a really good job," Nobles said. "They worked really hard this year and had such great attitudes. They deserve to have some fun now."
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