The bitter cold didn’t stop supporters from gathering at the high school Monday night to welcome home the Riverhead varsity cheerleading team.
The 17-member squad placed 22nd out of the original 54 teams that competed over the weekend at the National High School Cheerleading Championship presented by Universal Cheerleaders Association.
Riverhead advanced to the semifinals in Small Varsity Division I at the competition in Orlando, Fla. The Blue Waves advanced out of the preliminaries for the first time in program history.
Riverhead was in seventh place out of 27 teams going into the semifinals.
Coach Stephanie Piraino said she’s proud of her team’s accomplishment.
“Our goal was to make it to the semifinals and they did it,” she said. “They have now set the bar for our returning athletes who now have set the goal of not only making semifinals but making it into the finals.”
Co-captain Kaitlyn Berry described the season as exciting and said she enjoyed competing on the national level.
“Words can’t describe how I feel,” she said. “This is the best team and we wouldn’t have been able to do it without our coaches.”
Cheerleader Ines Garcia, 18, described the experience as bittersweet since she’ll be graduating.
“It’s a great way to end senior year,” she said.
Scroll down for more photos.