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By Brian Fees
Southern Tier Sports Report
A year ago was special for the Elmira College cheer team.

The Soaring Eagles went to nationals last year and came home with a national title in the co-ed division. While last year was a year for the ages, as Elmira heads back to nationals this week they are focused solely on this year, and not the past.

“I’d rather not focus on last year,” junior Katie Jones said. “I’d rather stay with this year. I’d rather not think of last year, with that I’d rather go with a clean slate and hope for the best at the end.”

Nationals starts tomorrow in Daytona Beach for the Soaring Eagles.

“I’m so excited, competing at nationals has always been my dream,” freshman Logan Olcott said. “I hope I can go with my team and win.

“I am so excited. I can’t wait to take the mat with my team and I hope we can bring home another one.”

The team geared up for nationals on Monday when they held a Nationals Showcase on campus, having family and friends in attendance to watch their nationals routine.

“So nice having your friends and family here and supporting you in general,” Jones said.

The atmosphere of cheering with a crowd supporting you is something special for the team.

“I thought it was awesome,” Olcott said. “I heard the crowd and they kept me pushing and pushing and pushing and I can’t wait to see what it’s like in Daytona.”

The team has been working all year for this moment, but time has seemed to fly by.

“This year flew by so fast, it was the beginning of the year and now it’s the end of the season already,” Jones said.

There has been a lot of work put in this year to get to this point.

“The hard work is worth it,” Jones said.

At this point in the season even the newcomers are really settled in with the team and ready to go.

“I feel like the nerves are completely gone, I just want to get out there and have fun with my friends,” Olcott said.

The team knows that nationals is something special.

“I am so excited, my third year and I’m so excited, it’s my favorite time of the year,” Jones said. “So much energy (at nationals), we are so excited.

“It’s my favorite time, I love competing in front of people, it’s the best feeling in the world.”

Jones feels like this year’s routine is even more intense than years past.

“This year I would say it’s more jam packed,” Jones said. “More fast paced. There is never a second to breath. It’s just all in general better than any year.

“This team is so talented, as talented as this program has ever seen and we are excited to show it off.”

Olcott knows there may be a few nerves when they get to Daytona, but when it’s time to go he knows the nerves will go away.

“I’m so excited,” he said. “A little bit nervous, but I feel like as soon as I get on the stage and the routine starts the nerves are going to go away.”

There are some big adjustments for newcomers at nationals.

“I have never competed outside before, so we’ll just see how that goes,” Olcott said.

Jones remembers her freshman year and how different nationals can be.

“I am excited (to see how the newcomers do),” Jones said. “Being a freshman it definitely is a little nerve-wracking at first. You haven’t competed outside, it’s a whole new atmosphere from all-stars, high school, whatever, so college is so much bigger. But, it’s so much more fun than anything you’ll ever experience.

“We are going to be competing (outside) on the band shell both days, and hopefully three days in a row as well.”

While the team is focused solely on this year, what they did last year certainly has added to their confidence coming into this year.

“It definitely shows everyone they are capable of doing things they didn’t necessarily think they were capable of,” Jones said. “But, everyone here is capable of what is in the routine.”

Not only is competing at nationals fun, but a trip to Daytona Beach is always nice.

“That sun, I can not wait for the sun,” Olcott said.

“I’m excited for the trip, I’m so excited for 80 degree weather, tired of the New York weather,” Jones said.

A year ago nationals finished with Elmira College’s players racing to the beach with the championship trophy and celebrating their win. The dream is to have a similar situation again this year, though they learned from a season ago.

“Yes, 100% (that would be amazing),” Jones said. “But, we have a deal this year, we would have to all take our shoes off because that sand gets stuck in your shoes and does not come out, I promise you.”
IN PHOTOS: Elmira College’s cheer team goes through their routine at their National Showcase on Monday. . . PHOTOS BY BRIAN FEES

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