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The Grant County varsity cheerleaders knew that to be at their best they would have to shake off their nerves.
Last week while the squad prepared for the JKD Competition at Bourbon County High School, they had several drops that they knew they could not afford in an actual competition, especially because the KAPOS eighth region competition was a week later.
The girls were able to stay focused and earned first place in the medium division on Jan. 23.
“The whole point of going to Bourbon was to prepare for the KAPOS weekend,” coach Leigh Simpson said. “In my mind, it was about getting the girls performing in front of a crowd and putting this routine to the test. I did not go to Bourbon with hopes of a trophy, but more about them nailing the routine in front of a crowd and feeling good about themselves.”
“We can’t get a big head because the KAPOS competition is more important,” senior Paige Mudman said. “We need to clean everything up because we know the routine, but we can’t have any falls. Last week was a reality check for our girls. We weren’t in competition mode, but once we got to Bourbon County, we realized all of our hard work paid off.”
With the first place finish, the girls have built their confidence as this week they focus on their goal of making it back to the state competition as region champions.
“It’s huge because they were walking on cloud nine after they got off the mat,” Simpson said. “They knew they had done fantastic under the pressure.”
The squad is led by two seniors, Mudman and Danielle Hayek, who are assisted by five juniors on the team.
“We’ve worked our butts off,” Hayek said. “We still have to stay focused and we have our work cut out for us. We have a great group of girls. I’m excited because it’s senior year.”
The girls have had to adjust their routine this season, transitioning from 16 girls performing to 15 girls because of injuries to sophomores Darian Kelly and Tiffany Horn.
Most times the girls are cheering on Grant County’s athletic teams, but now they are hoping that they will have a large turnout to support them.
“They feel like it makes them more powerful when they see that crowd facing them,” Simpson said. “It’s a big part of our success.”
The junior varsity will compete in the small division, but an injury on Jan. 22 has set them back. MacKenzie Arrasmith was injured while cheering at a game that night. Because of the injury, they were unable to compete at the JKD Competition.
“They were delivered a huge setback a week before regionals, so we’re going to do the best we can,” Simpson said.
If you go...
What: KAPOS Eighth Region competition
When: 11 a.m. Jan. 30
Where: Shelby County High School
Admission: $6 for adults, $4 for students