The UCF cheerleading team continued its success as one of the premiere cheer teams in the nation, placing third in the Division 1A Cheer Finals. It is the third consecutive year the Knights finished in the top three.

Head coach Linda Gooch, in her 26th year with the cheerleading team, said it takes competitive greatness to perform at the level the Knights have become accustomed to.

“You have to be able to be at your best when it matters most,” Gooch said with her voice completely gone. “They worked for months and months, thousands and thousands of hours for 2 minutes and 30 seconds. You have 16 people and all 16 have to be perfect.

It is the fifth consecutive year UCF finished in the top four. The squad last won the gold medal in 2007, winning the national championship for the second time in program history. In 2003 they won their first championship, breaking the University of Kentucky’s eight-year winning streak.

“Oh my god! It was just the greatest feeling I have ever felt in my entire life,” Lauren Whitt said of winning the championship in 2007. “It still gives me goose bumps when I think about it. We were just freshman.”

The Knights have finished in the top 10 14-times in the past 16 years.

Kentucky claimed their unprecedented 17th national championship. The University of Alabama finished one-full point ahead of UCF for second place, with LSU and Ohio State rounding out the top five. Florida State was the only other Florida school in the finals, placing 15th in the competition.

Source: Central Florida Future, Cheerleaders take third in nationals, by Carlos Pineda; Published: Sunday, January 17, 2010, updated: Monday, January 18, 2010