Members of the UP Pep Squad strike a pose as they receive the first prize in the UAAP Cheerdance Competition. JOSHUA MARK DALUPANG

The University of the Philippines Pep Squad struck a pose and struck gold with its Madonna-inspired routine at the 2011 Samsung UAAP Cheerdance Competition Saturday.

After flawlessly executing five and half minutes worth of stunts and dances, the blond squad bagged its seventh cheerdance championship – the fourth in five years – and a cash prize worth P340,000.

Meanwhile, the De La Salle University Animo Squad shocked everyone with its first podium finish in 12 years, placing second to UP. The Far Eastern University Cheering Squad, which finished second last year, dropped a notch to snag a third place win.

Perennial contender and eight-time champion University of Santo Tomas Salinggawi Dance Troupe only finished fourth in the eight-team contest.

The UP Pep Squad, aside from successfully defending the championship, also captured top prizes in the two side categories of the event – the inaugural group stunt category and the “Stunner of the Year” award, which was won by cheerleader Nesza Salvador.

The three-for-three finish, however, is only the icing on the cake for the members and coaches of the UP Pep Squad.

“We did not pressure ourselves of winning. What we all want was to have a perfect run for this competition,” UP Pep Squad coach Lalaine Pereña said. “The other squads really showed vast improvements.”

She added that she knew that this season’s competition would be tougher than the previous ones.

Assistant coach Niño Jose Antonio shared his colleague’s sentiments. “Our concentration was to do the routines perfectly, execute it perfectly and flawless,” adding, “Every year, we try to up our level and improve.”

UP Pep member Brainard Barrinuevo said the team always brings its winning tradition to their practices because it inspires them to work harder for the annual event.

“When we train, we always have in mind that we should train more than champions,” he added./TNP


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