By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item
ORLANDO — So close.
After making it through a preliminary round to Sunday’s National High School Cheerleading Championship semifinals, the Milton Area High School competitive squad came up just short, missing the finals by 0.266 of a point.
Not all was lost as the squad came in fourth in the world championship ranks, but this national miss “was a little hard,” Coach Traci Ferguson said from Florida, adding the seniors of her 15-member squad were really feeling the loss.
Ferguson said there was a bit of Murphy’s Law working against the girls. “Anything that could go wrong kind of went wrong: timing issues, little things you were hoping you corrected yet fell apart,” she said, yet taking it all in stride.
“It’s just one of those things ... It happens,” Ferguson said.
Hopes were high as 10 of the 2014 Milton cheerleaders were on a team that last year finished fifth in the national tournament. Milton performed its 2½-minute routine Saturday before a crowd of 5,000 at Walt Disney World and was among 16 squads advancing to Sunday’s second round.
But all wasn’t over yet, as the squad still had a “game time” routine Sunday night. That’s a three-minute routine complete with announcers who introduce the girls, Ferguson said.
The coach said her squad turned in “a fantastic performance,” but finished fifth in a field of eight.
Game time also was Milton’s last opportunity for a national championship. “It’s pretty much the end of our season” for competition, Ferguson said, but the squad will be back home tonight ready to cheer on the Black Panthers basketball team plus a makeup game Friday night.
“Next year will be rebuilding time,” she said, noting six seniors leave after this season and just juniors remain on this squad. But “with a decent-size sophomore class, the up-and-comers will make their mark.”