N.C. State University cheerleaders arrived home Sunday night in Raleigh to a cheering crowd after first place wins at the nation's largest cheerleading competition.
The university's teams won in two major categories of the National Cheerleaders Association college national championship over the weekend in Daytona Beach, Fla.
The NCSU team won the Small Coed Cheer Division IA national championship on Friday. A second team made up of cheerleaders, dancers, drummers, a majorette and mascot won a new category — the Game Day competition — which highlights the traditional elements of leading a crowd, performing the fight song and band cheers. Ms. Wuf, the female mascot, won third place in the mascot category.
The university's dance team also competed at the event, earning a fourth place finish in team dance and sixth place in pom routine for Division 1A.
The wins resulted in a special honor Friday night, when N.C. State lit its bell tower red to celebrate the cheerleaders.
NCSU has a long tradition of success in national cheerleading competitions, winning titles in 1986, 1990, 1991, 2001 and 2016.
"It's really exciting to see that tradition continue to pick up," said Harold Trammel, head N.C. State cheer coach, adding, "The program's in great shape, attracting great kids who want to work hard."
The competition draws university cheerleaders from around the country, who are judged on routines of two to three minutes, comprised of stunts, pyramids, jumps, tosses and tumbling.
The NCSU cheer coaches had the cheerleaders write themselves emails right after the competition, describing their experiences and emotions, Trammel said.
"You work so hard for it, and you want to remember and appreciate that time," he said.
And though the squad missed the sight of the bell tower glowing red, friends and relatives shared photos and videos of the milestone.
Trammel said the 50 cheerleaders at NCSU work from September through March to cheer on the university's athletic teams. After the NCAA basketball tournaments, they then focus on preparing for the April competition.
"We take a lot of pride in how we support our teams," he said.
Another North Carolina team had success at the competition. Lenoir-Rhyne University, from Hickory, won the top score in the Game Day competition for Division II.