Westchester Cheerleading Invitational: Ursuline captures first-ever Grand Championship

WHITE PLAINS — Ursuline’s cheerleading team went from having eight seniors last year to just four this year, but a youthful roster didn’t prevent the Koalas from capturing the program’s first ever Grand Championship Thursday night at the 69th annual Westchester County Cheerleading Invitational.

Despite a couple mistakes during their routine, Ursuline was able to remain composed and ultimately come out on top out of a field of 15 teams and win the large school, small team division.

The four other division winners to make it to the Grand Championship round included John Jay-East Fishkill, North Rockland, Lakeland, and Putnam Valley.

“We had our highs and lows but at the end of the day we just come together,” said Ursuline senior Danielle Napoli. “I think we’ve learned a lot from this season. It’s been a pretty good season and a rewarding season so far.”

Napoli played a critical role in Ursuline’s first-place finish according to head coach Adrianna Lacarbonara, who has been with the program for 16 years.

“[Napoli] is one of our front faces and her face just booms throughout the entire routine,” Lacarbonara said. “She’s on the floor, she’s dancing, she’s beaming all through her body and giving 100 percent every single time as well as the rest of the girls on the team.”

Ursuline still has a couple more local tournaments to participate in this season, but has its sights set on the Universal Cheerleading Association high school championships, which begin Feb. 10 in Orlando, FL.

Another school traveling south to continue its season will be Clarkstown North, who will be competing Jan. 27 at the National Cheerleaders Association high school championships in Dallas.

Clarkstown North finished third in the large school, large team division at the Westchester County Center but still had a night to remember after senior McKenzie Mayer won the Westchester County Cheerleading Scholarship and Clarkstown North head coach Lisa Rose won the Outstanding Coach Award.

“It means a lot to me because I’ve been cheering since I was five years old,” Mayer said. “I never thought I would be able to earn this [scholarship] because there are so many other girls that are really good out there. It’s such an honor to be picked out of so many people.”

In a fitting twist of fate, Mayer is able to share this scholarship with her coach (Rose), who won the same award when she was a student.

“It’s really special because she received this scholarship when she was a senior in high school too and it was always her dream for one of her cheerleaders to get so I’m really happy I was able to do it,” Mayer said.

Other scholarship winners announced at the event included Hendrick Hudson’s Samantha Aaronson, Yorktown’s Kaeleigh Aulicino, Byram Hills’ Kate Blum, and New Rochelle’s Bianca Rossignuolo.