Columbus cheerleaders pump up for major tournament

Published: Apr. 28, 2016 at 3:36 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 28, 2016 at 3:44 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A number of local cheerleading troops are gearing up for some friendly competition against other high flyers from across the country. 

Teams representing United Cheerleading prepare for the annual Summit Cheerleading Championship at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL,  after qualifying from their last tournament win.

Five teams in different age groups from United are making their way down to Central Florida to compete on a national level. 

The Pythons have made a habit of competing on the big stage at the Summit Championship. This is the fourth year in a row one of the teams has qualified to the tournament. 

The athletes' coach Mandy Hood said she's hopeful the teams will make it to the finals, but is proud of her kids no matter the outcome. 

"Words can't describe it," Hood said.  "I always tell them I'm their biggest fan."

The cheerleaders will be competing in divisions based on their level of skills, not just by age groups. 

All five Python teams will spend Saturday vying for one of the top 10 spots in order to move onto the final round. 

Abby Lewis, 15, is a member of the Mojave Pythons and said this year's appearance means more to her because of all the obstacles she and her teammates have overcome.

"This year was a big rebuilding year," Lewis said, "so it was a lot harder and it took a lot more practice and dedication to get to the Summit. I'm definitely proud of  what we've become and where we are today."

Two of the teams - The Mojave and Timor Pythons, competing at Level 4 and 2, respectively - qualified to have their trips either partially or fully paid.

Sumerlyn Dawson, 13, is a member of the Timor Pythons and said she's excited to be back again at the tournament and give 100 percent efforts for her team.   

"The ultimate goal for me is to have amazing facials and just do the best that I can so I don't have any regrets," Dawson said. 

Coach Hood and her teams to make it far in the competition, but they said they don't want to forget about having fun and enjoying the moment.

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