Pearl River cheer claims back-to-back UCA National Championships

Published 9:31 pm Wednesday, January 18, 2023

ORLANDO, Fla. — After making history a season ago with its first UCA National Championship, the Pearl River cheer team showed it hadn’t lost a step Sunday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports as it took home the National Championship for the second consecutive year.

“I am so proud of this team,” Pearl River coach Sarah Smith said. “To hit zero in front of the castle on the final day of College Nationals is a dream, and these girls made it a reality. Grit and drive. They had it when it counted, and now they’re going home back-to-back UCA Open All-Girl College National Champions.”

The Wildcats earned a fourth-place finish in Saturday’s semi-finals but took it up a notch on Sunday as they surged to the top in the finals.

“We knew that trying to take home a back-to-back National Championship would make for a unique and intense weekend of competition,” Pearl River coach Sarah Smith said. “We felt the pressure going in and unfortunately it showed in our semifinals performance. Thankfully, we did enough to advance to finals, but none of us liked hearing that three teams scored higher than us in semis.

“Although scores are wiped clean for the final round, it can be difficult to overcome a shaky performance. Saturday night we had a talk, and I asked the girls to fight. I asked them to fight to the finish, and that’s exactly what they did.”

In the finals, Pearl River scored an 88.9 to beat out seven other colleges in the Open All-Girl Championship, taking first place over Widener University, Rowan University, Webber International University, The College of New Jersey, University of Pikeville, Wallace State Community College and Nassau Community College

Members of the team include Skye Abram (Columbia), Jessica Baker (Columbia), Paris Bauer (Carriere; Pearl River Central), Katie Board (Florence), Kaylynn Brewer (Greenville; Washington School), Kambrey Broome (Sumrall), Amelia Evans (Mize), Hailey Hancock (Gulfport; Harrison Central), Patsy Herard (Eupora), Shania Hester (Southaven; Desoto Central), Makaylah Holcomb (Picayune), Abbie Jordan (Poplarville), Madison Lawler (Purvis), Ansley McDaniel(Oxford), Ked McKinney (Pascagoula), Hollie Mitchell (Carriere; Pearl River Central), Mary Kate Morgan (Hattiesburg; Presbyterian Christian), Isabella Orozco (Long Beach), Tamyiah Paige (Hattiesburg; Sacred Heart), Alyssa Payne(Magee), Kara Phillips (Purvis), Olivia Reid (Poplarville), Kay Kay Walker (Mendenhall), Carson Ward (Bay Springs; Silva Bay Academy), Kayleigh Warren (Purvis) and Mallori Watkins (Picayune).

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