Competitive cheer team to compete in nationals next week

Emma Watson

Layla Raber and Micah Robertson

Last Saturday night at halftime of the boys basketball game against Avon, 14 cheerleaders opened their routine with a spontaneous backflip – though they would call it a ‘standing tuck.” They moved into small groups, and the “flyer” did a back handspring before being caught by three of her fellow cheerleaders. From there, they threw her to the top of a stunt. 

They are all members of the CG competitive cheer team. While cheerleaders are well known for their performances at football and basketball games, the competitive team also performs routines in contests against other schools and teams. Their season will culminate next week in Florida as they compete against 70 other teams from across the country.

This is the cheerleading program’s second year with a competition team in recent years. They also went to nationals in 2022, where they did not make it past the preliminary levels. However, their season has been stronger this season.

“The team’s goal for this year is definitely to place a lot higher than we did last year,” Co-captain Kenzie Fuhr said. “We have two really good routines, and we’ve placed really well at all of our other competitions.” 

The team added a routine this year as they worked to improve their performance.

“Last year we only had one [routine], which was the game day, but this year is our second year doing game day and then our first year doing ‘traditional,’ so this year we have two routines,” sophomore Francesca Podolsky said.

The types of routines are based on a complicated assessment of difficulty, execution, technique etc. “Traditional” routines feature more jumps, stunts, and tumbling with a cheer in the middle of the routine, as opposed to a game day routine, which resembles what is seen on the sidelines of a football game. 

The competition season started at the end of October, with the cheerleaders traveling to Jennings County, Fishers and Silver Creek high schools over the last few weeks. The goal was to get a bid for nationals, which the team earned, but they also ranked well in regional competitions, including earning the Overall Grand Champion award at last weekend’s Silver Creek Competition.

“We usually have won our game day routine. Our traditional routine we usually get first or second place, but the first few competitions we’ve gone to are more for us to see what judges are telling us, so the next few competitions we’re having are going to be harder, but recently we’ve been winning them,” Podolsky said.

Competitions are judged with a score based on difficulty, but points may be taken off if cheerleaders don’t land their tumbling or fall. Multiple teams compete against each other in the intensive, all-day, Sunday events, which are a little like the national-level competition.

At nationals, the team will start with an opening round. 

“You have what they call ‘day one,’ which is just to see who moves on to semi-finals because the pools are so big. Since we’re performing two routines, we essentially have to perform six routines in total, hopefully,” Fuhr said. “We’re going to go from day one if our score is high enough compared to everyone else. Then we’ll go to semifinals, and then if our score is high enough again, we’ll get to move on to finals.”

Fuhr has hopes for her own performance as well as the team.

“Personally I’m hoping to just go out and put out six good routines,” she said. “My game day routine I would really like to have a lot of spirit, because I don’t do any stunts in that one and that one is more about just how loud and enthusiastic you can be. As far as my traditional routine, I’m hoping that my tumbling looks good and of course that all my stunts stay in the air.”

But as a whole, Fuhr said, “Definitely moving on to finals is the team goal, but also hitting both routines, which basically means doing them perfectly, or to the best of our ability.”

The team will begin competing in Orlando on Feb. 9.