The Bowie High School cheerleaders' path to the Happiest Place on Earth was anything but easy.
The squad didn't have a coach all summer, revamped its routine twice one month before the Universal Cheerleaders Association national competition, and lost several members to injuries and ailments.
But the rugged Bulldogs pulled off the routine and claimed a school-record finish at Disney World last weekend.
"Our season began with the hard loss of our coach," senior captain Bridget Alvarez said. "Through our love of the sport, we bonded and used our perseverance to continue. We experienced change after change this season, and nothing ever broke the amazing team that we had."
Making their first appearance in the finals of the National High School Cheerleading Competition since 2008, the Bulldogs were ranked 16th out of 33 teams.
With two and a half minutes of cheerleading magic, the team landed seventh place for the program's best finsh ever.
"The moment the routine was over, I knew we just left it all on the mat," senior co-captain Brandon Hertel said. "Everyone was excited and put their all into that routine."
Coach Amie Roggemann said she was proud of how hard the students worked.
"They went out and worked as a team and had a phenomenal routine," she said. "When it was over, they could have won first place for all you knew. They were just so excited."
It was an unlikely end to a trying season, but one that she said will be remembered for the team's grit and determination.
"This year wasn't easy from the beginning," Roggemann said. "There were so many challenges, but they just kept working hard. I'm so proud of their maturity."