The Highland High School varsity cheerleading team finished second in the medium team division at the Illinois High School Association Competitive Cheerleading Sectional on Saturday at Triad High School and qualified for this coming weekend’s IHSA Competitive Cheerleading State Finals Competition to be held at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Blooomington.
Highland went out first in the medium division and finished with a final team score of 83.27 after being hit with 2.5 penalty points. Waterloo was the sectional champions in the medium division with a winning team score of 87.11.
Also finishing in the top five and making the cut for state were Columbia (82.89), Mount Vernon (82.49) and Macoutah (82.24).
“After having two stunts fall and a tumbling touch that left us with 2.5 penalties points and a two-point drop in rubric range, I didn’t think we had a shot to make the top 5, especially when the other teams were clean,” admitted Highland head coach Angie Fears. “As they announced top five, I thought after they announced fifth and fourth that we were out. When they announced us as second place, I cried because I was so excited. After reviewing scores, the difficulty of the routine and the performance of the rest of the routine saved them.”
Assistant coach Chelsey Kantner said she also was so elated when they learned that they had made the cut for state.
“When they called us for second place, I literally fell to the floor,” she said. “The performance was not our best, and we had quite a few penalties. The girls kept their performance level up, and I think that is what helped them. God was definitely on our side today.”
For the IHSA Competitive Cheerleading State Finals, Friday is preliminaries and Saturday is the finals.
“Our goal for this weekend is a clean/flawless routine,” Fears said. “Making podium after two days of a clean routine is what our goal is for this coming weekend.”
Kantner said the team plans to run the routine over and over this week leading up to Friday’s prelims in order to build up their endurance.
“All we can hope for is that we can hit a clean routine Friday to move us on to finals Saturday. Angie and I know they can do it, they just have to believe in themselves.”
The HHS varsity cheer team consists of Molly Barry, Kaylee Barth, Rileigh Bent, Karley Broske, Kamy Daiber, Calli Engelmann, Ally Iberg, Hope Imming, Lexi Gibbons, Candice Greer, Abby McTeer, Carly Rakers, Leah Sutton, Alex Thies, Bailey Wills and Jessica Wilson.
Triad was crowned the sectional champions in the co-ed team division with a final winning team score of 85.06, which was nearly four points better than Bartonville Limestone’s runner-up score of 81.11. Also qualifying for state in the coed division were Bradley-Bourbonnais (79.47), Centralia (75.84) and Wesclin (73.63).
Additionally, Breese Central won the sectional championship in the small team division with a winning team score of 88.44, which was more than six points higher than Mater Dei’s runner-up score of 82.11. Also qualifying in the small team division were Carterville (81.07), Anna-Jonesboro (80.40) and Sesser-Vallier (78.51).