FLAGSTAFF. Ariz - The NAU cheer and dance teams travels to Anaheim, Calif. this weekend to compete in the 2013 USA National Championships. The event marks the second and final competition for both squads after spending months cheering on various teams within NAU athletics.
"We are really excited for this weekend," said cheer coach Travis Doerfler. "We have really come together as a team and we are ready to compete."
The Lumberjack cheer team is coming off of a first place finish in Hollywood, Calif. where they won the 2013 West Coast Championships. NAU has its sights set on coming home with a team trophy this week as the top three teams medal.
"A top three finish would be great," said Doerfler. "I strongly believe that our tumbling routines are arguably the second best in the entire country."
The Lumberjacks will compete against nine other teams within their division. Familiar foes competing against the Lumberjacks include Big Sky teams Montana and Idaho State. It will be the first opportunity for the cheer team this season to compete against any Big Sky teams and the Lumberjacks aim to leave an impression.
"It would be really nice to beat our Big Sky Conference opponents," said Doerfler. "It is not often that we get this opportunity to compete against our conference when we normally cheer on the other sports."
The dance team also looks to improve from their last performance as they placed sixth in the 2013 UDA National Championships in Orlando, Fla. on Jan 18-20 of this year.
"Our goal is to improve from our competition in Florida," said Cassie Laughlin, director of cheer and dance. "A top five finish would be a great accomplishment."
To complete that goal, the dance team must be ready to compete on the highest level.
"We are competing against big schools around the country, namely Oregon, the University of Arizona, New Mexico State, and the University of Utah," said Laughlin. "So representing NAU at this level is always a special experience."
The format of this weekend's event is consistent to both squads. Each team will have the opportunity to compete in the prelims on Sunday with all schools advancing to Monday's finals. Final scores will consist of averages from both the prelims and the finals. The squads with the three best averages will earn team awards. The Lumberjacks will compete in the qualifying round on Sunday at 9:45 p.m. local time. Coverage for the event will be available via a live stream at Varsity.com.