About 250 cheerleaders on 24 squads, two dozen anxious coaches, and a multitude of fans are all gearing up for the West Virginia High School Cheerleading Championships to be held in Charleston this coming weekend. At this competition every aerial, back handspring, extension, heel stretch, herkie and roundoff will be thoroughly examined by a panel of judges to determine the best in the state in three separate classes.
After placing second to Wheeling Central in the Region I competition last month, the Tyler Consolidated cheerleaders will be among the 24 squads, looking for a title.
The Silver Knight cheerleaders, coached by Stefanie Suter and Laci Strode, will compete in the class A competition, against seven other squads placing first or second in their respective Regions, including Wheeling Central.
"We had the third highest score in the state for single A coming out of Regionals," coach Suter said. "So we are expecting to do well at the state competition. We have made some good changes to our routine to make it more difficult and exciting."
The upcoming competition on Saturday will mark the first time since 1996 that a Tyler Consolidated cheerleading squad has made an appearance at state, and Suter, Strode and the Knight cheerleaders are striving to make sure it is a memorable one.
"I think people will be very surprised at our girls' talent and ability," the coach said. "We have a very athletic and dedicated squad. We are definitely a contender for the state title."
The Cheerleading Championships will be held at the Charleston Civic Center on Saturday with Class A competing first at 10 a.m. The order of appearance of the class A competition is as follows: Wheeling Central, Fayetteville, Tug Valley, South Harrison, Moorefield, Williamstown, Tyler Consolidated, and Wahama.
Teams competing in the Class AA division include: East Fairmont, North Marion, Robert C. Byrd, Lincoln, Liberty, Independence, Mingo Central and Tolsia.
Class AAA teams competing will be: Brooke, Wheeling Park, Jefferson, Lewis County, Riverside, George Washington, Logan and Winfield.
Cheering at the competition for the Silver Knights will be: Logann Long, Randy Taylor, Makayla Clegg, Jessica Fiber, Shandi Long, Katlyn Seckman, Alex Bubenchik, Kali Mead, Sydney Glover, Brooke Keys, Sierra Mace, Jayme Jeffers, Laken Miller and Megan Wilson.
As with the Lady Knight volleyball team who recently made their own run at a state title, support for the cheerleaders is showing up everywhere from store fronts to yard signs, and it is hoped that this uplifting support continues.
"We are really appreciative for all the support we have already seen," Suter said. "We hope to see a lot of people from Tyler County at the competition. It means so much to the girls and their parents to see people from the community coming out to cheer on the cheerleaders."