WINTER HAVEN - For the first time ever, Polk State College's cheerleaders this weekend will compete in the 2012 Cheersport National Cheer and Dance Championship.
Twenty-five Eagles will perform in front of thousands of spectators at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. The Eagles are competing in a 14-team division that includes Michigan State University and the University of Georgia.
"We're super excited and we're ready," said head cheerleading coach Brittany Carson.
The squad will perform a 2.5-minute routine on Saturday and Sunday. The team with the highest combined score wins.
Carson said the Eagles' routine is challenging and includes seven pyramids and lots of tumbling and dance.
"This is a lot more tumbling than we've ever done before and the stunts are a lot more difficult," she said. "Overall, the routine is a lot more difficult in all aspects because our team is at such a high caliber."
Teams qualify for the national competition via video. This was the first year that Polk State submitted a video to the contest.
"We've been working to get to this level. This year, we felt we had the ability and the skills, so we went for it," Carson said.
The national competition comes on the heels of Polk State's first-place overall finish at the regional Jamfest competition in Tampa earlier this year.
Cheerleader Kristiana Heath, 19, of Babson Park, said she is thrilled to represent the Eagles on a national level.
"This is my first year cheerleading for Polk. It's a mix of nervousness and anxiousness ? but total excitement. We're ready," she said.