After a “flawless” performance in the prelims on Friday which placed them in the top three among the 10 teams that qualified them for Saturday’s finals in the medium team division, the Highland High School cheerleading team had a rough performance and finished 10th of the 10 squads in the finals at the Illinois High School Association Competitive Cheerleading State Finals Saturday at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.
Highland received a final team score of 89.67 in Friday’s prelims, which was only behind Lemont’s 90.93 and Oak Forest’s 90.43 but was out in front of the other seven qualifiers for Saturday’s finals: Yorkville (89.07), Crystal Lake Central (86.93), Columbia (86.10), Tinley Park (86.03), Washington (85.73), Grayslake Central (85.33) and Wauconda (85.30).
But in the finals, Highland’s mistakes cost them as it received a final team score of 77.80. Oak Forest ended up winning the IHSA state championship in the medium team division with a team score of 92.13. Lemont finished second at 90.13 and Crystal Lake Central rounded out the podium finishers at 89.80.
“Friday’s performance was flawless,” Highland coach Angie Fears said. “There were no mistakes and no penalties. We were in a great position heading into day two. As for day two, I can’t explain why or how, but we fell apart, literally. It’s hard to swallow as they day before they performed the best routine of their season, and the next day if it could go wrong, it did. The kids are disappointed in themselves and that is understandable, but it’s a life lesson in learning to pick up and move on.”
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But Highland still had a successful season as the squad won the Illinois Cheerleading Coaches Association state title as well as the IHSA Triad Sectional title.
“They still should be super proud of their season as they overall had a fantastic year,” Fears said. “They won the ICCA championship, they won the IHSA sectional, they were in the top three after day one of the finals and they finished 10th in the state. I will miss my seniors next year, losing four of them. We will be losing two seasoned veteran flyers, Audrey Kosydor and Carollyn Dinh. We will also be losing the versatile Marissa Wheeler who based, back-spotted and was a flyer and Brooke Arbogast who is a lot of strength. They brought a lot to the squad and are all very talented. There is still a lot of talent coming back next year and it will hopefully be another successful year. My juniors are fighters and I know they will come back strong.”
In addition to the four seniors, the HHS cheer squad, which is coached by Fears and Chelsey Kantner, also features Calli Engelmann, Jenna Foster, Lexi Gibbons, Lacey Grawe, Ally Iberg, Hope Immingm, CJ Kutzgar, Abby McTeer, Carly Rakers, Leah Sutton, Alex Thies, Bailey Wills, Jessica Wilson and Dani Zobrist.