By Brad Fauber
Shenandoah Valley Christian Academy's varsity competition cheer team continued its recent success at the 2014 Christian Cheer Nationals held last weekend at the Benton Convention Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.
The Patriots took home their fourth straight national championship following the conclusion of the three-day event last Saturday, as SVCA placed first in both the small varsity music non-stunt and non-music non-stunt divisions.
Longtime SVCA head coach Luanne Wheelock said the Patriots -- who scored around 80 percent in both of their winning routines this weekend -- were shorthanded at the tournament compared to their competition, but SVCA was still able to beat a combined 18 teams in the two events.
"The max you can have on the floor is nine, and we had seven. So we went in at a slight disadvantage," Wheelock said in a phone interview Thursday. "But the girls did really well."
The Patriots also had a solid performance from junior Deborah Dick in the individual section of the event held during the first day of competition on March 6, as Dick placed third in the junior tumbling division.
In addition to the national championships, Wheelock said the Patriots also had six of their seven girls earn the Cheer Scholar Award, which is given to participants who have maintained a grade point average of 3.0 or better.
The Christian Cheer Nationals, which is put on annually by the Christian Cheerleaders of America (CCA), features teams of varying levels of competition from all over the country. SVCA competed against private Christian schools similar to itself, but Wheelock said the event also draws higher-level teams from across the U.S.
"There's various all-star teams from all over the country, from California, from Florida, from everywhere," Wheelock said.
SVCA's competitive cheer season typically runs from October up until the yearly Christian Cheer Nationals held each March, and Wheelock said the team has enjoyed plenty of success since she took over the program.
In addition to the success SVCA has had in the national championship event, the Patriots also have traditionally performed well in the past at the CCA's Blue Ridge Classic held at Liberty University during the first weekend in February. But the Patriots missed out on that event this season due to the poor weather in the area.
Still, Wheelock was happy with the performance of the team this past season, and with the team comprised entirely of juniors and one eighth grader, the Patriots can expect that success to continue next season.
"It's just a really good group of girls," Wheelock said. "They worked hard this year, really dedicated, really focused. And that's what we need ... they make the sport fun."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD