Cheerleaders overcome state results


By Kristelle Carmona, staff writer, and Jack Ryan, executive in-depth editor
Almost a decade after the last state qualifying cheerleading team, 24 cheerleaders were once again ready to leave it all on the mat for the state competition. With hair teased and tamed, eyelashes on, and one last pep talk in the middle of the mat, there was no turning back now. Senior Melanie Ankony relives that moment before their final performance.
“We reminded each other that you have to push yourself today more than any other day, have fun with the routine, and most importantly do it for us,” Ankony said, describing the team’s final talk of the season. “Don’t focus on the judges, coaches, and even the fans. We have worked too hard to let it all go now.”
According to junior Jillian Hennig though, the team did not do as well as they hoped in the state competition since they received last place, or 25th. The team received last place due to a teammate bending her chest past her waist when doing a flip in pyramid formation.  
Even though the got last place in the state competition, they made their last year’s goal of just making it to state. At the end of last year’s season the girls missed state by six-tenths of a point. The team was hurt by the results, but this fueled their desire to reach the state competition this year.
They started achieving that goal of making it down to state in the beginning of this year. Instead of working on their cheers and dances for the fall season, they instead focused their attention to the competition season by working on their stunting, along with building their technique and skill.
“I think their motivation and what they were focusing on shifted this year because they really wanted that one goal of making it to state,” Varsity Cheerleading Coach Jackie Gronski said. “This team has worked so hard, and they’ve deserved every second of success that they’ve had.”
As their determination skyrocketed, so did their confidence. As competitive season rolled around, the girls created a goal board, which they referred to as their “hit” board for each competition. It contained their goals, such as 9.0 jumps, deduction free routines, and smiles, along with one consecutive goal: “Do it for ourselves.”
“According to Ankony, “that one sentence made a huge difference in our entire season.”
Going into the state competition, there were the nerves, the laughs and the excitement, but at the end of the competition Hennig and the rest of the incoming seniors started to look forward to next year’s competition season.
“Next year we all kind of have even more of a passion inside of us [to make it to state] because we want to do better, and make it to the second day,” Hennig said. “I just know that our whole team is going to work twice as hard as we did this year, and keep up with our tumbling [so we make it to state].
Hennig, along with the rest of the incoming seniors have already started to achieve their goal for next by creating a new Facebook page, already starting to plan with their choreographer and starting to intensify their voices more. The reason the girls started to prepare now is so they can get ahead of the game to become more developed for next year.
Hennig and Ankony know that they could have improved their state performance, but in the end they’re both pride of how the team progressed throughout the season.
“Even though we got last at state and didn’t make it to day two, I wouldn’t change anything about this season,” Ankony said. “I am so beyond proud of every single one of the girls. Everyone has been pushing themselves since June. Through all the injuries and mental breakdowns we won MSL and Sectionals and achieved our one goal: make it to state.”
IHSA State Cheerleading Results:

  1. Joliet West High School: The Tigers

-Score: 94.70

  1. Providence Catholic High School: The Celtics

-Score: 93.13

  1. Neuqua Valley High School: The Wildcats

-Score: 91.30

  1. Carl Sandburg High School: The Eagles


  1. Lincoln-Way North High School: The Phoenixes

-Score: 89.97
25) Prospect High School
-Score: 79.87
Read more about the IHSA Competitive Cheer competition and how other teams did at state here.