Abdul cheers on UM 

While all the attention this week focuses on the local football team’s title run, another group of Griz athletes may be in line for their own championship. MTV recently announced that the University of Montana cheerleading squad is one of five finalists featured in the upcoming Jan. 3 special, “RAH! Paula Abdul’s Cheerleading Bowl.”

MTV filmed the 90-minute reality competition last month in New York City. According to a release from the once-music channel, “RAH!” aims to take viewers “inside the intense world of competitive cheerleading” by showing the squads competing “in challenges with a distinct MTV edge.” Abdul, a former Los Angeles Lakers Girl and pop icon who now judges “American Idol,” “hand-selected” the finalists, which also include Miami University (Ohio), the University of Arizona, the University of Hawaii and the University of Arkansas.

“It wasn’t really until we got to New York and got onto the set that we realized what a big deal it was,” says UM cheer coach Stacey Farnes. “Everything just happened so fast and then I think it hit us—we’re going to be on MTV.”

Farnes says the squad—and Monte, of course—submitted a highlight reel to MTV over the summer and heard nothing back until a few days before the Nov. 15 football game against Idaho State. A film crew and team of producers attended that game, but didn’t inform the squad they’d made the final. Before kickoff, a personalized video from Abdul broke the big news. A week later, they were in New York for three days of filming and lots of one-on-one coaching from Abdul.

“She was incredibly involved in every facet of the show,” says Farnes. “It wasn’t like she was just the star. She had this incredible energy and passion for the competition. She said it’s been her life’s dream to do this show.”

The winning squad receives a feature story in American Cheerleader Magazine and a trip to “MTV Spring Break 2009.” While Farnes isn’t allowed to reveal the results, the coach assured Griz fans the squad didn’t disappoint.

“Without giving anything away, I was incredibly proud of how we performed,” she says.
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