The Highland varsity cheerleading team finished second to Columbia in the medium team division while the squad’s top stunt group was crowned the state champions at the Illinois Cheerleading Coaches Association State Championships on Saturday at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield.
“The girls gave an amazing performance this weekend, one that they can be proud of,” Highland coach Angie Fears said of the squad’s second-place finish. “They had zero deductions. That’s what we are striving for. We didn’t get first, but we have some work to do yet. There was some bobbles in the stunts and mounts and some timing issues in the tumbling which brought down our execution scores, and we will work will work on them between now and the IHSA Sectional (at Triad on Jan. 29). The best part of the entire routine though was the fact that the girls put on a show. They had the performance ‘wow factor’ on Saturday.”
Highland is led by senior co-captains Hope Imming, Allyson Iberg, Bailey Wills and Jessica Wilson.
Imming said she was beyond happy with her team’s ICCA state performance which was her final one.
“I wouldn’t have wanted to end my last ICCA state competition any differently, and I’m sure the other seniors would also agree,” Imming said. “The team has been working so hard, so this was well deserved. Tumbling is definitely one of our strongest skills. We throw a total of 16 fulls during the routine, and that is more than any other team we have seen this year. This year’s routine has got to be the hardest one yet, but definitely the most entertaining. With only four weeks left in the season and until IHSA state, we plan to work harder than ever. The talent on our team this year is unbelievable. I can’t wait to see what the rest of this season has to offer. None of this wouldn’t have been possible without the love and support from our friends, family, and coaches.”
Wills, the squad’s top flyer, agreed that it was a really good weekend.
“I’m super proud of my team,” Wills said. “We definitely pulled through and gave a strong performance. Our hard work we put in over (Christmas) break definitely paid off.”
Highland’s top stunt group was crowned ICCA state champions in the All Girl Stunt Group Competition. The group consisted of three seniors — Imming, Wills and Iberg — and one junior (Abigail McTeer). In addition to Wills serving as the flyer, Iberg is the main base. Imming is the back spot, and McTeer is the side base.
“The stunt group was absolutely amazing,” Fears said. “The group of three seniors and a junior had been planning this since the seniors had been freshmen. They wanted this pretty badly, and it showed. They not only won the competition, but they won it by 9.5 points over the second-place team. They were flawless, and they did some of the most difficult stunts out there as of right now.”
Wills was also excited by her stunt group’s stellar showing.
“We hit our stunts perfect, and we were completely happy with what we put on the floor,” she said. “We were very excited to be called for first place in that division, and we separated from second place by almost whole points. So that was also exciting to hear.”
Imming said that every year Coach Fears lets a group of seniors form and create a routine for the stunt group competition and ever since their freshman year, she, Wills and Iberg have been planning and creating their routine.
“Our second year on varsity, we met Abby McTeer, who was the perfect fit to our stunt group,” Imming said. “We had to choreograph the stunt sequence ourselves and practice on our own time. A lot of hard work was put into our routine so getting first place was a huge accomplishment. It has been our goal since freshman year to win the All Girl Stunt Group Competition at ICCA. I couldn’t have been more happy, not only because all of our hard work has paid off, but I was able to share this experience with some of my best friends.”
In addition to Imming, Wills, Iberg, Wilson and McTeer, the HHS varsity cheer squad consists of Molly Barry, Kaylee Barth, Rileigh Bent, Karley Broske, Kamy Daiber, Calli Engelmann, Lexi Gibbons, Candice Greer, Carly Rakers, Leah Sutton and Alex Thies.
The HHS junior varsity and Highland Middle School cheerleading teams had a big day on Sunday as the JV team took third place in the small school division, and the HMS squad placed second in the large division.
“I’m extremely proud of our entire cheer program, starting at the middle school level,” Fears said.
Th HHS JV team is composed of Alexis Banks, Madysen Castile, Kelsi Dant, Claire Friederick, Sophia Hartlieb, Joey Kutz, Sami Kutzgar, Olivia Loyet, Olivia Mueller, Catlyn Thomas, Parisse Waldman, Kara Weiss, Libby Wolf, Grace Zobrist and Tyler Zobrist.
The Highalnd Middle School team is comprised of Madi Beiermann, Reece Bolen, Alexys Broughman, Kyleigh Buchen, Krista Eads, Morgan Flesch, Rhea Fowler, Jordan Grieve, Kyliegh Haller, Karlie Hooton, Mya Iberg, Britney Janiszewski, Avery Miles, Maddie Noeltner, Tallie Powell, Rylie Pugh, Allison Reiling, Emma Ruffini, Ansley Thurmond and Brittani Wellen.