Edwardsville High School graduate Marcie Billings wasn\u2019t expecting much out of her cheerleading tryout at the University of Central Florida. \u201cIt was literally insane. Walking into it and seeing so many experienced people was humbling,\u201d Billings said. \u201cAt Edwardsville, you know you are at the top. Everyone there is the best of the best.\u201d Three days later, Billings learned she was one of the best of the best. Billings was one of two new members selected to join the University of Central Florida cheerleading program. An NCAA Division I program, the school is located in an eastern suburb 15 miles outside of Orlando. \u201cI\u2019m super exciting,\u201d Billings said. \u201cIt was a really tough process because the tryouts lasted four days. In those four days, I think we tried out for 36 hours. Only two new people made the team.\u201d Cuts were made at the end of each day. The first day included two rounds of cuts, including one an hour into tryouts. At the end of the third day, Billings learned she made the team. The fourth day was the first practice for the team and its two newest members. \u201cI was overwhelmed. I wasn\u2019t expecting to make it, especially since there weren\u2019t many available spots on the team and they didn\u2019t have any females graduating,\u201d Billings said. Had Billings not made the team, she still was going to attend Central Florida. Before deciding on the suburban Orlando school, Billings was also looking at Texas Tech. \u201cI went and visited Central Florida back in February and I just had an amazing time. I felt very welcomed by the team. The whole environment was just so much better than what I had felt at Texas Tech,\u201d Billings said. This past January, the UCF cheerleading team finished fifth at the UCA National Championships in the Division IA cheer competition. It was the program\u2019s 23rd top-five finish, including three national championships with the most recent in 2020. \u201cIt\u2019s a hard-working team. They have won national titles and the coaches there are amazing,\u201d Billings said. At EHS, Billings helped the Tigers to a ninth-place finish at the IHSA cheerleading state final competition in February. It was the program\u2019s seventh top-10 finish. Billings was a multiple All-Southwestern Conference selection during her prep cheer career. \u201cIt\u2019s been the best time that I have ever had. I started cheering my freshman year with no prior experience before high school. I fell in love with the sport,\u201d Billings said. Before cheerleading, track and field was the sport of choice for Billings. In middle school at Trinity Lutheran, Billings was a state champion in the hurdles as a seventh-grader. She took second in the hurdles and fourth in the long jump as an eighth-grader. For the Tigers as a junior, Billings earned a runner-up finish in the 100-meter hurdles to help the team to its first Southwestern Conference championship since 2006. \u201cI was leaning more towards track going into high school but then cheer came along,\u201d Billing said. \u201cI fell in love with it.\u201d In the classroom, Billings was a high honor roll student and Illinois State Scholar.