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COLUMBUS, Ohio— The Ohio State cheerleading squad finished runner-up at the National Collegiate Cheerleaders Championship held Sunday at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla. The Buckeye cheerleaders finished second to Kentucky and placed ahead of Hawaii in the competition that will be televised nationally on ESPN and ESPN2 in February.

“We are very excited about our success,” Judy Bunting, cheerleading coach for OSU, said. “We hit our routine the best we could and I feel we were rewarded for it. It was a total team effort.”

OSU has been to the national level before and has found success on many occasions.

“This is the second-highest finish we have had,” Bunting said. “We won the national title in 1993 and have placed sixth or better in every competition since then. We placed sixth last year so we are happy with the improvement.”

After claiming the title of the top team in the Eastern region, the Buckeyes received a bye in the semifinal qualification round Saturday and proceeded to the championship round to compete against 12 other teams. With 16 members on the squad competing, Bunting knew they had a strong chance to win.

“We have many great individuals with talent,” Bunting said. “This was a unique team experience and that is how it happened, as a team.”

The national runner-up squad was Georgia Sainato, Andrea Pursely, Tara Casciato, Tara Zinslen, Jennifer Barr, Amy Hawkins, Paul Cascioli, Tony Pedro, Brian Mathias, Tim Pike, Chris Ove, Tyler Houchin, Patrick Carmichael, Adam Widman, Paul Schlitz and Patrick Fogarty.

The cheerleaders will now prepare for the 2002 National Collegiate Cheerleader Championships by perfecting its routines at such OSU sporting events as men’s and women’s basketball and men’s hockey.