Pointed in the right direction

Placing well at state, Varsity cheer prepares to compete on the national level


Sarah Myers

Shelby Clay; Angelina Mitchell and Mary Jo Clancy, varsity cheer, pump up the crowd at the varsity football game against Lafayette High School, Aug. 21.

“The cheer program has definitely evolved so much,” Cathryn Jones, varsity cheerleader, said. “Placing at state a couple of years ago would have been a miracle.”

The varsity cheerleaders recently placed third in their category at the Missouri State Cheerleading Competition at the Hearnes Center at the University of Missouri Columbia, Nov. 7.

State determines how a team falls compared to the other teams in the area. The results give a range as to how well a team is doing so far in the season.

The varsity cheer team competed against four other schools in the 5a Large category: Liberty (Kansas City), Marquette, Francis Howell and Rock Bridge.

“Our girls put up a fantastic routine with no major errors, which was great, and really personified Wildcat pride,” Ms. Amanda Halbert, head varsity cheer coach, said.

Taking third was an accomplishment for the varsity squad.

Beating Marquette is one of the main goals of varsity cheer. The two coaches, Ms. Abbey Gradle and Ms. Halbert, are good friends and colleagues, so the girls have a natural bond and a friendly rivalry. At state, Marquette came in second and EHS came in third, but they were only behind by 25 points.

“All of the kids have really made it their goal to increase the level at which we compete,” Ms. Halbert said. “They’re very self-motivated, and their biggest motivation is to beat Marquette.”

Although varsity cheer placed third, the girls still weren’t completely satisfied.

“It was kind of a disappointment because we had done so well, but it motivated us to keep pushing and going harder,” Sarah Mink, varsity cheer captain, said. “So it was a happy thing because it’s ‘third in state,’ but it was still a motivator to keep working hard.”

The team learned their competition routine back in May and have been focused on it ever since. Along the way, the squad welcomed an entirely new coaching staff and had to work to find a suitable practice space and their footing.

Before the state competition, the varsity cheer team had a crazy practice schedule. The cheerleaders are in the process of buying new mats to practice on, so before state they had to rent out Cheer Legendz. There they would practice their routine for two hours, running through it over and over again, fixing the little things, according to Jones.

The team has early morning, late night, and even weekend practices, working to make their routine as flawless as possible.

Varsity cheer has two more competitions, and the team is continuing to practice. They will be competing at the Bootheel Classic in Cape Girardeau, a Universal Cheerleaders Association Qualifier, Dec. 6, and will be going back to the UCA National Competition during the first week in February.

“We just have to keep reminding each other what the ending result could be if we keep trying,” Mink said.

The team’s goal this year is to make it to the semi-final round at Nationals.

The team sets the bar high.

“We want to be as good as they were,” Gwen Kulik, freshman cheerleader, said. “We want to be motivated to do what they can do.”