CORVALLIS - Oregon State University's cheerleading program captured three titles at the United Spirit Association National Championships held recently in Las Vegas, Nev. - the first national competition for the program in school history.

The Beavers edged Long Beach State University and the University of Texas-El Paso in team competition, OSU senior James Erickson of Salem took first place in mascot competition and Eric Mahame, of Corvallis, and Gresham's Kasey Schaffer earned a first in partner stunt competition. There are three main national collegiate cheerleading competitions annually, said Amber Bezates, head coach and former national championship team member at Kentucky's Morehead State University. The Las Vegas event gave OSU a chance to compete against other schools of the same size, she said.

"This is my second year at OSU and when I came to Corvallis, I gave myself three years to develop a competitive team," Bezates said. "My goal was for Oregon State to be competitive at the national championships. This competition is an avenue for teams around the country to showcase their skills and dedication. This is a very well-deserved honor."

Erickson, who dons the Benny Beaver mascot costume at campus spirit and sport events, said the competition combined hard work with a lot of fun. "In the mascot competition, I was more on my own," said Erickson, a senior in business management. "I did a Harlem Globetrotter-type routine involving stunts such as spinning a basketball."

The 24-member team also includes Lindsey Armstrong of Albany; Nathan Bauer of Keizer; Joshua Blackburn of Tillamook; Paul Brakora of Klamath Falls; Winston Burbank of Fairbanks, Alaska; Nate Dawson of Aurora; Tori Fordice of Hermiston; Brian Holcomb and Sara Winkelman of Corvallis; Andrea Iverson of Boise; Chris Krieger of Klamath Falls; Adam Clay and Shauna Smith of Eugene; Margarita McCready of Roseburg; Allison Pallotta of Jacksonville; Kasey Schaffer of Gresham; David Schwendiman of Kenmore, Wash., Alexis Smalley of Glendora, Calif., Roy Tate of Lebanon; Ben Turner of Portland; and Kallie Yamane of Olympia, Wash.

The five-judge panel awards marks for competition based on choreography, showmanship, difficulty, and execution.


Amber Bezates, 541-737-5593

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