The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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Bucknell Cheerleading Squad competes at Nationals, places 6th

Photo+Courtesy+of+Head+Coach+Ashley+Frankel
Photo Courtesy of Head Coach Ashley Frankel

Bucknell’s cheerleading squad is a longstanding pillar of the athletic community, but despite many years of hard work and dedication, the team was never given the opportunity to perform and compete at the National Cheerleading Association’s College Nationals competition. That all changed this year, when the 2023-24 team received a bid to compete during their annual summer training camp. 

Consisting of seventeen elite athletes—including Bucky the Bison—the team has been training nonstop to both earn their bid and fight for their chance to win. Daily workouts, practices, lifting sessions and “content review” of routines and plans ensure that the cheerleaders are in shape and fully prepared to perform as a cohesive unit. Their commitment went above and beyond during Bucknell’s winter break as well. While non-athlete students returned to campus after Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January, the cheer team restarted their regular daily practices on campus shortly after New Years. Because their sport requires such collaboration and precision, these athletes can’t let their game slip. Their “off season” barely stretches the month of June before they’re back on campus, preparing for the upcoming year. 

This year, the team spent their early return to campus rehearsing for basketball season halftime and sideline performances, on top of their preparation for the Nationals competition. Coach Ashley Frankel is beyond proud of her team for making it to Nationals: “This is the first cheerleading squad in Bucknell’s history to ever compete at NCA College Nationals,” she explains. “Our category was extremely competitive, with less than a point separating each placement.” It’s a testament to her team’s ability that they were able to not only put themselves on the proverbial map, but also place 6th overall, with a score of 89.2 out of 100. 

NCA College Nationals are a two-day program, with teams competing consecutively over that period. Bucknell’s team fell into the Spirit Rally Division 1 category, competing against other Division 1 programs for the singular cheerleading trophy of the season. In the words of Coach Frankel, “Other athletic teams have games or matches weekly, and multiple chances to ‘win,’ [but] cheerleaders train an entire year for one weekend, and have one chance.” 

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Frankel joined the program in 2017, and has definitely felt the “long journey” that the team has endured to get where they are. “[Our] program has grown into a nationally recognized team,” she says, “[…] and I am so excited to see where they take it next year!”  

Team Captain and passionate cheerleader Ally Riuli ’24 describes her time on the team as “an incredible experience.” She feels “so lucky” to have been able to “develop a relationship with each and every one of [her teammates]” over the course of her time at Bucknell. Riuli understands just now much her team “deserve[s] to be here,” celebrating their success. “We cheer on every other team throughout their season, so now it’s our turn to be recognized, and show everyone how hard we work,” she says.

Nationals itself was “filled with all the emotions you can imagine” for Riuli. “Happiness, excitement, anger, [and] frustration” do not even begin to cover it— the experience was once-in-a-lifetime. “The team was beyond grateful to be there, and be a part of the first team in Bucknell history to compete.” 

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Lyndon Beier
Lyndon Beier, Assistant News Editor

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