Cheerleaders ‘Bring It On’ At OVAC Championships
WHEELING — Paden City and Magnolia showed their school spirit when they took home top honors on Saturday at the OVAC Cheering Championship at WesBanco Arena.
“I enjoyed the completion so much,” Wildcats’ Katrina Heasley said. “That was my third OVAC competition and each year I’ve enjoyed every one of them.”
Wildcats’ Coach Hannah Shreve gave the high marks for their flair, their spirit and their skills.
“The girls did awesome,” she said. “They hit everything tight and clean. They could have not have done any better. Coach Kim Hizer and I are so proud of them. We got third and were between 5-6 points away from second place. We had a small squad this year consisting of 8 girls on competition team and one alternate girl.”
Paden City High School Principal Jay Salva offered praise to this talented group of Wildcats.
“I’m very proud of our cheerleaders. I know they worked hard and the hard work paid off. Hannah Shreve and Kim Hizer did a great job preparing the girls,” he said.
Cheerleaders can defy gravity. Don’t believe it!? Ask Heasley.
“I Iove getting to tumble,” she said. “Being a cheerleader lets me hang out with my friends who are also on the cheer team. The Wildcat cheerleaders and coaches are a family. It also gives me a chance to cheer on my brother (Aaron).”
Kallie Arnett, the sole senior member of the Wildcats’ cheerleading squad, said she was a little nervous before the competition, but pleased to represent her school.
“I was very anxious, but I knew my team and I were going to do amazing,” she said. “I’m very proud to be a Wildcat.”
The surprise of the day came early on when Magnolia collected its first OVAC championship in school history, knocking off the defending three-time champion Linsly by a narrow 1.15 points.
“I don’t think there are any words to describe the elation that we felt now that we won,” Magnolia coach Jacqueline Clegg said. “We have never won an OVAC cheering championship in school history before and it means the world to the girls and to us.
“It was a little scary going in when you know you are the first team to go but we just told the girls to go out and do what they know and just raise the bar and that is exactly what they did.”
Magnolia assistant coach Marcie Cline was very thankful to have had the opportunity to witness history with such an amazing group of talented athletes.
“We are so thrilled for them,” she said. “It is all about them. They are a great group of kids and we already won before they even got on the court because they are such a great group.”
Wheeling Park garnered its fifth consecutive 5-A championship trophy and its eighth OVAC title in the last nine years, while Bishop Donahue won its sixth 1-A championship in a row in the Bishops final year of the program. Paden City’s Wildcats took home the bronze for 1-A division.
St. Clairsville also continued its winning ways by notching a tenth consecutive 4-A championship, while Toronto repeated in 2-A.
Wheeling Park’s focused and explosive group of Patriots used a strong tumbling routine to secure its fifth 5-A title in a row.
“Its exhausting out there,” Park coach Shawna Shepherd said. “That first 1:15 is probably the hardest tumbling you will see in the state. It is non-stop and it is gruelling on their bodies.
“Its a great team. We only have one senior so we are expecting good things for next year too but I put a lot of pressure on them and they handle it well and practice hard. They do what they need to in and out of the gym and I am very pleased.”
Park’s lone senior, Abby Hudrlik, has been a part of four OVAC championships and has helped deliver victories in all four appearances.
“It has definitely been interesting,” Hudrlik said. “It has been a hard four years but it is very rewarding and I am so thankful to come back this year and win.”
Another team that has been a part of the winning traditions of the OVAC cheering competition is Bishop Donahue, which has won six straight years. Perhaps this is the most important of those six years for the Bishops, who are closing their doors at the end of the school year.
“The last couple of weeks have been very emotional for the girls and for myself,” Bishops’ coach Dana Mele said. “Going out with the season that we have had is a great accomplishment. This championship means a great deal for these girls.
“The talent we have for tumbling for a single A school, along with our jumps can sometimes set you aside from other schools. Everybody works just as hard as the others. However, the tumbling we have really steps it up a little bit.”
The most outstanding accomplishment of the afternoon might have come from the Red Devils of St. Clairsville, who claimed their 10th OVAC title in a row.
“The pressure is on each year,” St. Clairsville coach Shawn Tomlan said. “Nobody wants to be the first senior class to lose but they just know what its like to win so they work really hard.
“We have had a lot of injuries this year so we were keeping our fingers crossed to get through the routine and they pulled it off.”
The Red Devils did not miss a beat and put on a flawless performance.
“We work hard on cleaning our routine,” Tomlan said. “That is what St. Clairsville is known for. We are not always the strongest at tumbling but we always have a clean routine.”
Toronto is putting together a very solid resume, claiming back-to-back 2-A titles, and three of the last five.
“It is all up to them,” Toronto coach Jenna Rampello said. “They come into the gym every single day and work for hours at a time. They leave it all on the floor and they just want it so much that they will do anything to get it.
“We have six seniors and are just trying to keep the tradition going. We just want to keep winning more banners. Our underclassmen are awesome and they have so much heart and dedication. Our future is bright at Toronto.”