UHS varsity cheerleaders 4th at PIAA district state qualifier competition

13-member squad boosts performance over previous season

By Karen Cresta, Correspondent, The Times


The Unionville High School cheerleading squad took home fourth place in last week’s PIA district competition. From left, Row 1, Jane O’Neill, Emily Wood, Lexi Heckman (team captain) Row 2, Sammie Tracy, Natalie Freeman, Sarah Taylor, Kaylyn Lay, Taylor Wilson, Coach Kerry Meisten Row 3, MacKenzie Taylor, Bridget Clark, Maddie Knightly, Anna Crawford. Not pictured: Averi Townsend (team co-captain)

EAST MARLBOROUGH — The 13-member Unionville High School (UHS) Indians’ cheerleading varsity squad was beaming with pride and full of spirit at their practice Wednesday night after placing 4th out of 11 in the small varsity division during the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) District Competitive Spirit Championship Competition on Saturday, Jan. 10. The competition took place at William Tennent High School in Warminster.

In addition to their 4th place small varsity division win, overall they were ranked 19 out of a possible 35 in the district and moved up from the bottom 9 last year.

Lexi Heckman, team captain, boosted, “The win felt amazing. It felt so great to hit everything – spot on. The energy and happiness the team had was so real. There was a lot of dancing and celebrating for the win.”

The process of creating and learning and then mastering their two minute and 30 second routine started in August 2014. With the help of a hired instructor, the basics of a routine was created and then updated during long practices for the competition.

The girls try out for a position on the squad and are scored and placed on teams to cheer at the football and basketball games during the seasons. Only the top 13 chosen varsity girls go on to compete.

All teams within the district who register to perform are afforded the opportunity to compete. Points on the official score sheets are deducted for any rule infraction such as stepping out of bounds, going over the time restrictions or performing illegal skills. The judges tally points earned for such skills as partner stunting, tumbling and jumping.

Music is also a big part of the routine. It is chosen and mixed for the official recording and every second accounted for based on competition rules. It coincides with the dance and stunts portion at the beginning and end of the routine. The middle portion consists of a cheer for the “Big Blue.”

According to Coach Kerry Meisten, “The squad put in many hours a week to work on perfecting their routine. I was most impressed by the girls’ stunting and jumping.”

Although the squad did not qualify to move onto the PIAA state championships, they were hopeful of the possibilities for their next two competitions coming up at the Garnet Valley Cheer Challenge in a little over a week and the Pa. Ches-Monts slated for February.

Heckman proudly commented, “We are really good at supporting each other inside and outside of cheer. We are all friends who are part of a loyal team.”

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