THE return of Baguio Central University and Benguet State University is expected to tighten the race in the upcoming 7th Globe-Baguio Cheerleading Festival Panagbenga Cheerfest Cup.

Baguio Day Cheerfest hall of famer University of the Cordilleras is skipping this year's flower fest cheerdance competition in preparation for their stint in the national competition but local pep squads in the college division is expected to go all out.

The UC dance group will be competing in the coming national cheerleading championships in Manila by March.

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However, their absence would not be felt as teams from Baguio City, Benguet and even as far as Pangasinan are set to join the one-day cheer dance competition tentatively slated on February 20 at the Easter College gymn.

Adding excitement is the addition of the Pangasinan State University in the college level, and the return of the improving Eastern Pangasinan Agricultural College High School in the secondary category in the even sanctioned by the Philippine Cheerleading Federation and will now include the elementary division.

Cash prizes and Panagbenga trophies are at stake for the top three winners in each division including raffle prizes for the audience courtesy of Globe Telecom.

Leading the children's division are Palarong Lungsod cheering champions SLU Lab Elementary School and other schools who earlier signified to join in last year's debut led by Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Montessori, and Baguio City Academy, public schools Baguio Central School, Doña Josefa Elementary School, San Vicente ES, Mabini ES, Aguinaldo ES, Quezon Hill ES, Lucban ES, Tabora ES, and Batuan ES from Nangalisan, Tuba-the only squad from Benguet, among others.

Pines City National High School-main is expected to defend its crown for a possible fourth straight title in the high school division. PCNHS' main rival Baguio City National High School-main skipped last year's Panagbenga Cup in preparation for the NCC finals but has been lording the past three Baguio Day editions in the SM Super Moves Cheerleading Championships.

SLU Fusion, an all-star squad from last year's host SLU, won the college division title in the absence of powerhouse UC who was also gearing up for the NCC finals in Manila. UC will be given another send-off on competition day. (Roderick Osis)