Preliminaries stop NIU unexpectedly

By Jim Trentadue

The NIU cheerleading stunt team traveled to Dallas, Texas over the winter break for the national cheerleading championship, which did not go as expected for the Huskies.

Trying to improve on their 10th place finish a year ago, NIU had problems in the preliminaries and failed to make the finals, despite having their best team yet.

“It just didn’t work for us,” said coach Derek Ramel. “We deserved to be in the top five.”

Although the team didn’t make the finals, Ramel said he feels this team improved on almost every category last year.

“Stunts like basket tosses, double back-flips and holding one-arm stunts are a few stunts that we really improved on from last year.

“It was just the bobbling, little by little, that made our routine weak. All the top teams made mistakes, but they just didn’t do it in the preliminaries as we did,” said Ramel.

NIU competes in the National Cheerleaders Association Championships, which has a lot less restrictions on team’s routines than the other collegiate championship, the Universal Cheerleaders Association, which is the championship shown on ESPN.

The University of Oklahoma won the team title in what was nearly perfect execution of their routines which made them a distant first place.

As for the partner stunt competition, Gregg Niemiec and Helen Palmaira did not make the finals because of problems in the preliminaries. East Texas State won this competition, using the same routine the Huskies’ partner stunt couple used the previous year.

Although Ramel is losing quite a few seniors from his team and said he feels they deserved to place much higher, Ramel feels, with the freshmen he has this year, the Huskies may have not lost a step.

“Freshmen like Brian Bloom, Tara Rathbun, Candiss Hogan, Jana Williams and Kelly Brouton I think are future stars, just to name a few. The freshmen give me all the jumping and tumbling skills I need to be back in the championships again,” said Ramel.