Cheer places 14th at UIL state competition


Photo provided by Andie Hayduk

The cheer team poses for a picture before they perform for the judges. Going into the competition, they hoped to place in the final 20. “We have pretty tough competition as far as there’s a lot of good teams, so our first goal was to make it to finals,” Jackson said.

The cheer team placed 14th at the UIL state competition on Jan. 16-18 at the Fort Worth Convention Center. 

This is the fifth year the team has participated in the competition. Most of the seniors have competed at least once, so they had an idea of what to expect.

“The first time, I was a sophomore and it was nerve-wracking because we had never been in a competition before,” senior Megan Schoenemann said. “But this year we’ve figured out how the competition scores and what it’s like, so we were able to put something better together.”

After football season, the team prepared and choreographed a routine to perform. They stayed after school every day to practice for the competition. 

“We started in November as soon as our last football game and pep-rally were over, and then we worked all November, December and January to prepare for it,” cheer coach Courtney Jackson said. “Part of our routine was the fight song, but I fixed up some of it to fit the UIL competition. Then, we brought in a choreographer for the cheer and band dance.”

Before rehearsals started, the coaches picked who would be on the team for UIL by looking for specific things the girls would contribute to the group. 

“The competition is based on sharpness, motion technique, the skills of toe touches and kids that have standing backs and who have good facials that engage the crowd,” Jackson said. “[The practices] started lighter, but as we got closer, they started to get intense as far as working on our tumbling and the stunts that we do.”

Last year, the team won 10th in the state. However, sophomore Andie Hayduk said although they placed lower than last year, they still did better than predicted. 

“I think we did better than expected because leading up to the actual competition, we were struggling,” Hayduk said. “A few of our routines have stunts in them, we had to change a bunch of things and a lot of people quit, so people had to fill in for them. We had to change the routines a lot, so I wasn’t expecting us to get as high as we did.”

This year the team has 14 graduating seniors. Although the group is losing a big part of the team, Jackson said the incoming seniors have what it takes to keep the team going. 

“Senior leadership is important, and when you lose a big chunk of seniors, it definitely is hard to replace,” Jackson said. “I think the juniors that are coming up have been in the program long enough, having seen the leadership, and they’ll be enough of them to step up.”