Florida Atlantic University cheerleaders heading to the UCA College Nationals in Orlando

Last year, the Florida Atlantic University cheerleading squad finished in ninth place among 20 teams at the UCA College Nationals in Orlando.

This year, the Owls are going for it all.

"We didn't do too hot in our semifinals. We did really really good in finals, so when we got our placing we weren't happy about it," said Coach Henderson. "So we're going back this year with a vengeance to really get up into the top five and possibly win."

The team has held two-a-day practice sessions for two-and-a-half weeks leading up to nationals in hopes that their routine is perfect.

 "The whole idea of cheerleading is to get the crowd on your side and yelling the cheers with you. So if you perform and look like you're having fun, the crowd will join you," said Hector Escamilla.

Eight cheerleaders on this year's squad have experience from last year's ninth place finish, so they know what the judges are looking for this time around.

"Be confident, calm yourself down before you get out there. It's really not as hard as it seems, just have fun with it and you'll do fine," said Emily Hanna.

"They're looking for execution, which means them hitting the skills and not so much the difficulty. Being very clean and sharp, a lot of performance value," said Coach Henderson.

Along with the cheerleading squad, the FAU dance team will also compete at nationals this weekend.

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