Article: Competition Cheer Team takes 7th at Nationals

Competition Cheer Team takes 7th at Nationals

Posted Tuesday, February 20, 2024

There’s a first time for everything, and the first time the Bellbrook High School Competitive Cheer squad showed up at nationals turned out pretty well.

That’s right, the Bellbrook Competitive Cheer team finished seventh in the Varsity Non Building Division II Universal Cheerleading Association High School National finals last weekend at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, scoring an impressive 82.5 points.

With 15 teams in the division, the BHS squad wa
s surprised it got to skip right to the Sunday events and the semifinals.

“Being our first time down there, we were hoping to make finals,” coach Debi Schwieterman said. “When they did call us for finals it was pretty exciting.”

Her team backed up that sentiment.

“It was pretty nervewracking,” sophomore Kalynn Schaaf said. “Backstage it was really dark and all you could hear was the music going on out there. And then once you go out there, the lights are so bright on you.”

The team was a little surprised to make finals, having not put their best foot forward during the semis.

“It wasn’t our best performance,” freshman Kaitlyn Puchalski said. “We had a few falls, a couple girls didn’t throw their passes – it was just all the nerves of being under the bright lights. All the freshmen especially hadn’t done it before – so we all had nerves.”

Still, a 72.4 was good enough to place the team seventh heading into finals and a stellar performance kept them in seventh place when it was all said and done, despite a minor musical mishap in their final performance. 

The cued music missed the first 10 beats of the song, according to Schwieterman, but the team remained calm and waited until the music restarted. From there, it was game on.

“Day 1 was definitely not a ‘nailed it’ feeling,” Schaaf said. “We all thought we did not do very good. Day 2 at finals, though, we walked off all just felt like we killed that.”

The team found out it made it into finals in a unique way. 

Schwieterman said with all the cheer teams congregated at the baseball field in the ESPN complex at Disney, team names were drawn randomly in each division and when Bellbrook’s name was called, the team exploded in, well … cheer.

“Finding out we made it to finals was super suspenseful,” senior Emma Kosins said. “We didn’t know if we were going to make it. Everyone was crying. It was crazy.”

The atmosphere was a stark contrast to what they were used to. From the lighting to how long their coaches were with them, everything was different on the stage at the UCA Nationals.

“It’s more of a serious competition,” Kosins said. “The local competitions – we’ll call them practice. Just to get us out there so we are ready for National, State, League and all that. We try, but it’s not like as nerve-wracking. Nationals was super nerve-wracking. We’ve obviously never done it before, but we just needed that extra support from one another to know we could go out there and do it.”

“Seeing the girls do what they do – they were just amazing all the way around,” Schwieterman said. “When they practiced they were very supportive of each other. They were a cohesive group. They earned this. I’m so proud of them.”

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