GLOUCESTER — When the Gloucester High School co-ed Cheerleading team left home for Orlando, Fla. and the Cheerleaders of America Ultimate Nationals, they left as a pretty accomplished team.
The Fishermen had already won the Northeastern Conference and finished second at the Massachusetts Regionals, as well as the State and New England Championships.
When the team returned home yesterday, they came back as National Champions. The Fishermen defeated Miami Killian High School by just .15 points last Saturday to win their third national title under head coach Eric Bichao. Ironically, Miami Killian defeated Gloucester in the COA Ultimate Nationals last season,
"The team was happy to exact some revenge after they (Miami Killian) beat us last year," Bichao said.
Gloucester captain Rebecca Cousins was happy that the team was able to get first place after a recent string of second place finishes.
"It's been an amazing experience," Cousins said. "We have a young team and we lack experience, but we have really come together as a team. I'm so proud of everybody."
The Fishermen's win did not come without a little controversy.
Gloucester was originally announced as the second-place winner, but it was determined that they mistakenly received a penalty.
"I always look the score sheet over to be sure there are no mistakes," Bichao said. "And I noticed that we were given a penalty, but we were not told that we had a penalty. So I went to the committee to check it out and I really thought that the penalty would be valid and they just forgot to tell us."
The team was assessed a 10-point penalty because one of the judges believed that Gloucester's Filippo Zappa was wearing jewelry on his wrist. However, it was actually a silver wrist band that he was given at the beginning of the competition. The cheerleaders all received gold wrist bands, but Zappa's kept breaking, so he was given a silver one.