COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State spirit squad will head to Orlando, Fla., this weekend to compete at the 2011 UCA/UDA Cheer and Dance National Championships at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex.

The dance team, coached by Trisha McCarthy, will compete for a bid into the final round around 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday morning. The cheerleaders will compete for the championship Sunday around 5:30 – dancers if qualified into final rounds will compete Sunday around 3:30 p.m. The finals will air in March on ESPN.

“We are excited to once again represent The Ohio State University at the national level,” head coach Lenee Buchman said. “The cheerleaders and dancers cheer and support the athletic teams throughout the year. This is the one opportunity they have to represent themselves as a competitive spirit program.”

The cheerleaders competing include Andrew Blankenship, Cassandra Benfield, Cassandra Bernard, Christina Boulding, Samuel Desalvatore, Abby Disabato, Ian Henschen, Allison Humbert, Michael Jameson, Aaron Lamanacusa, Joshua Leaming, Kennah Mason, Brittany Maynard, Jamal Niles, Gordan Rankin, Ben Schmidt, Rebecca Stomps, Ally Taulbee and Nathan Wise.

Dancers competing this weekend are Melissa McGhee, Nicole Toland, Kate Lorenzetti, Shayla Koester, Jamie Moore, Melissa Heintschel, Caitlin Riley, Sarah Tanko, Marissa Houdek, Emma Dickman, Ashley Peck, Tessie Kernell, Natalie D’Onofrio, Katherine Simmons, Kaitlin Cuthsaw and Erica Stratz.

Under the direction of second-year head coach Lenee Buchman, assistant coach Dana Bumbrey and choreographer Eddie Hollins, the fifth-place finish by the cheerleaders in 2010 was a one-spot improvement from 2009 marked the highest since the squad took second in 2001.

The Buckeyes won the national championship in 1993 and took sixth in 2000, 2005 and 2009.