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The stars keep shining bright for UCF as the Knights finished runner-up to Kentucky at the College Cheerleading National Championship on Sunday night.

It is the third-straight year that the Knights have finished runner-up and the 11th consecutive year that UCF has had a top-four finish.

The first year that UCF qualified to compete in this competition was in the spring of 1994. That year, the championship was held at SeaWorld in San Diego.

This has been the 23rd year in a row that the program has qualified and competed in the national championship under head coach Linda Gooch.

Under Gooch, the program has placed in the Top 10 of the College Cheerleading National Championships 21 times. That includes two national titles in 2003 and 2007.

“I am so proud of the entire team for their hard work and the way that they have represented our program and university” Gooch said in a UCF Athletics release . “I am proud of the fight we showed and especially honored to have worked daily with the seniors. Our seven seniors, who have led our team to three-straight runner-up appearances, their leadership [has] once again kept UCF in the national spotlight.”

UCF put on an amazing show in their journey to clinch one of the top spots in the finals for the College Cheerleading National Championships at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Saturday night.

UCF used most of this time during winter break to prepare for the championship.

The team practiced almost every day, which included a few two-a-day practices.

The Knights also performed its routine at local high school competitions and for fans at both men’s and womens basketball games.

“We have worked very hard this year to prepare a performance that we can execute with confidence, one that will impress the judges and make our UCF fans proud,” Gooch said in the release.

Before competing for a national championship, UCF represented the United States in the World University Championship.

The Knights, who have won two straight titles, astounded the crowd at the J Center and also earned a runner-up finish at the World University Cheerleading Championships. Iowa Western Community College took the top spot.

The Knights electrified an already energized crowd on Sunday with its outstanding execution of their challenging routine in the College Cheerleading National Championships and the World University Championships.

“In many ways, it was like a UCF Cheerleading family reunion because there were so many in the crowd,” Gooch said. “I want to be sure and thank all of the UCF fans and alumni that showed up to support our team tonight,” Gooch said in the release.

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Jimmy Calhoun is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future.

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