The New Oxford cheerleading team entered this weekend's PIAA championships as the three-time defending champions, but with a young team, the Colonials sat in second place going into Saturday's finals.
After making a few tweaks to the routine, the Colonials once again were crowned state champions, winning their fourth consecutive PIAA competitive spirit championship at Hershey's Giant Center.
New Oxford won the co-ed division with a score of 81.33, edging Downingtown West by 1.93 points. It was New Oxford's third straight co-ed division title. Those victories followed New Oxford's medium division state championship in 2013, which was the first year of the PIAA competitive spirit championships.
Head coach Chris Topper said this year's 25-member roster features 15 new cheerleaders, and roughly 80 percent of the athletes are freshmen or sophomores.
"A lot of people didn't have confidence in the kids or didn't believe in them," Topper said. "Nobody gave them a shot, but they just worked hard all year long, and they really bought in."
New Oxford — which is also the defending national champion — was second after Friday's preliminary round with 77.03 points, just behind Downingtown West's 78.73 points.
Topper said the Colonials added a jump to the routine for Saturday's finals to improve their score in the jump category.
"These kids really deserve it," Topper said. "They have confidence, and they work hard, and it's a great honor to be their coach."
Red Lion finished in fourth place in the co-ed division with 69.83 points, behind bronze medalist McDowell. In the medium division, Dallastown took ninth place with a score of 71.17.
The Colonials, meanwhile, have a short turnaround for their next challenge: Defending their 2015 United Cheerleading Association championship in the medium varsity co-ed division.
The team will leave Wednesday for Orlando, Florida, and will spend the rest of the week preparing for Saturday's national championship.
"Nationals is going to be very tough. Everybody is gunning for you because you're on top," Topper said.
Topper said the routine for nationals is slightly different than the one performed at the PIAA championships.
"We have some cleaning up to do," he said. "We'll have to go back on Monday and clean some things up for nationals."