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Kentucky Cheerleading’s bid for 25th national championship comes up just short

(UK Athletics)

(UK Athletics)

Kentucky will have to settle for a third-place finish at the UCA Nationals this year.

On Wednesday night, the Wildcats Cheerleading squad came up short of taking home the program’s 25th national championship, earning a bronze medal at the 2021 Divison I Universal Cheerleaders Association finals competition in Orlando, FL.

This was the second season in a row that Kentucky has placed third.

“Our athletes have been through a lot this year and it became obvious to us that not having any performance opportunities due to COVID-19 really made a difference,” first-year UK head coach Ryan O’Connor said, according to UK’s press release. “We will learn from this experience, reload and refocus for next year. I’m very proud of every athlete in our program and would not want any other team out there representing us.”

On Tuesday, Kentucky won its first-ever Division 1A Virtual Game Day national championship, which was a strictly virtual event.

The Kentucky Dance Team also participated in the events this week, earning two second-place finishes at the 2021 Universal Dance Association competition.

The ‘Cats placed second in the Division 1A Game Day portion of the competition, marking the highest finish in UK history. The Dance Team also placed second in the Division 1A Hip Hop portion of the event, tying the school record for the best finish in that category.

Head coach Dawn Walters, who is in her 12th season as the Kentucky head coach, was pleased with how her team fared in this year’s national competition.

“This group has been so determined, focused and coachable, it’s a joy to see them reap the benefits of their hard work,” Walters said, according to UK. “I am so proud of how this group has represented the University of Kentucky especially during such a trying year.”

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Recruiting reporter for KSR. Follow me on Twitter: @ZGeogheganKSR