TAMPA — One year after claiming the program’s first-ever national championship, head coach Gillian Guadagnino’s USF Coed Cheer Team went back-to-back, raising the first place trophy in Orlando, January 14-16.
"It is the longest two minutes and thirty seconds of my whole life," coach Guadagnino said. "We’re competing together and working together as one unit. And really just trying to be the best version of ourselves each day when we step onto the mat and into the gym."
The preparation and attention to detail in the sport of cheerleading is second to none.
"We’re constantly watching our routines, looking at what we can improve on, and making those changes," said Ansley Topchik. "There’s definitely a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that goes into it- believe it or not. We work just as hard as any other sport, for sure."
The national championship consists of a two-and-a-half minute routine with no timeouts, no replay reviews, and no do-overs.
"We try to keep the mentality of 'Yes, we want to win,' but the mentality is to go out there and give it our all," Uriel Sanchez said. "Because we just want to go on that mat, put or hearts out there on the mat, and leave without any regrets."
Jovon Penny said this team deals with roster changes every year, but that hasn't been a problem for the Bulls.
"We want to grow together, build together. So, having new people isn’t a whole change of dynamics," he said. "It’s just, we bring ‘em in, try to make them feel comfortable, and just show the love."
USF joins Kentucky as the only schools to repeat in their division. Now, they think they have what it takes to stay on top.
"This team just has so much heart and drive," Topchik added. "We come in every day wanting to be the best version of ourselves. Wanting to be better. We just want to carry that on to the future teams."
USF Coed renewed national competition in 2016 following a 13-year hiatus and has progressively climbed up the leaderboard to become a dominant program, finishing 12th (2017), 8th (2018), 4th (2019), 5th (2020) and finally No. 1 in 2021 and again in 2022.