The Crystal Lake Central, Hampshire, Jacobs and Cary-Grove competitive cheerleading teams will head to the IHSA state finals this weekend at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington looking to be the first squads in their schools’ histories to advance to the second day of competition.
In order to do that, the teams will have the task of trying to finish in the top 10 during Friday’s preliminaries. Each division starts with 25 teams.
For Crystal Lake Central, this is the third consecutive year the Tigers have qualified for state. The Tigers will compete in the medium division after small mistakes hurt them in the large division last year. Central ended up in 24th place.
“We’ve been working much harder than last year to try and fix the little things that we had trouble with last year,” Central senior Taylor Becker said. “I’m really excited to be going again; hopefully we can do better and get to Day 2.”
Hampshire came about as close as one can get to qualifying for Day 2 of state last year. The Whip-Purs ended up in 11th place, just 0.06 points away from the final advancing spot. Hampshire returns 14 of the 20 girls from last year’s squad.
“I tell the girls every day, they have the skills, they have the stunts, what they need to do is focus on each thing as it happens. Hopefully, that will be enough to get us through,” Hampshire coach Rachael Kent said.
Hampshire and Central will compete in the medium division this year, with the Whip-Purs performing at 12:10 p.m. Friday and the Tigers at 12:30 p.m.
Cary-Grove returns to state after last year’s first qualification in school history. The Trojans return most of the team that finished 15th in the large division.
“Our goal is to just place higher than last year and finish with a better score. Ultimately, we’d love to make it to Day 2,” C-G coach Jamie Reiche said.
Jacobs has qualified in six of the nine seasons that cheerleading was recognized by the IHSA, but haven’t managed to break through to the second day. The Golden Eagles will be looking to build off a strong sectionals performance that saw them tie for second place.
“With cheerleading, there’s such a mental aspect when it comes to the confidence level of the athletes and you have to have that going into any competition,” Jacobs coach Shannon Jamrozy said. “I think Sunday’s performance has really given them that inspiration and confidence they’ve needed for a while.”
Cary-Grove and Jacobs will perform in the large division this year. The Trojans take the floor at 5:20 p.m. and the Eagles at 6:30 p.m.