Cheerleaders state champs


Amy Evert

With trophy in hand, the cheerleaders celebrate their victory after the competition.

What a difference a year makes. Last year, the varsity cheerleaders ranked sixth in the state and fourth in Region AAAAA. This year, they took first at state and second at region. 

After many months of grueling practices, the cheer squad performed an outstanding routine to bring home the first place trophy in the AAAAA State Cheerleading Championship, which was held at the Columbus Civic Center in mid-November. They competed against 72 other teams from around the state.

“We all stood in a circle, held hands, and took a deep breath before we performed,” senior Christina Deraney said. “We also prayed and sang.”

The cheerleaders’ routine was two minutes and 30 seconds. They had to meet certain criteria in order to max out the score sheet. These qualifications consisted of stunts, jumps, tumbling, dancing, and pyramids.

Although the girls were nervous, they were able to remain calm and confident before performing because of their faith in each other. “I was very nervous at first, but then I was calm because I knew we could do it as a team,” Deraney said.

According to head cheerleading coach Mandy Ratliff, the cheerleaders began conditioning in April, which lasted throughout the spring and stretched into the summer, during which time they practiced three times a week. Once school started, the conditioning increased to five times a week. Although the preparation process was difficult, hearing their names called after the competition was well worth the effort, according to the girls.

“As the coach, I always tell them to have no regrets. From there, the win depends on talent, performance, and a little bit of luck,” Ratliff said.

Sitting in a circle with their heads down and holding hands, the cheerleaders waited together in the tension-filled minutes after they competed, waiting to hear the results of the competition.

The squad was all smiles once the school’s name was called as the new state champions of 2014. “It was indescribable,” senior Hannah Willis said. “All our hearts were completely filled with joy when we won.”

The girls had to compete in six invitationals and had to finish in the top four in the state sectionals to advance to state. Then they had to make it to the top eight to qualify for state finals.