The Perry County Central cheerleaders have managed to rack up a lot of awards in a short period of time, including the 2012 ICU World Championship.
The busy cheer squad has picked up a second place in the nation, first place in the world, and first place in the state in the last two weekends. The team has always made a good showing in competition, but had never achieved higher than fifth place in nationals before this year.
They started the year off in a big way by winning every competition at cheer camp over the summer.
“We started off on a good note,” said Coach Kim Dixon. “We have won everything that we have been in with the exception of second at nationals.”
The girls began practicing and learned their routine starting in August. The routine is choreographed by Bryce Seals, and as the team improved, so did the routine. It was continually changing to match the girls’ level.
“We laugh because we practice all year, 10 months, for two minutes and thirty seconds of a routine,” said senior Mieko Smith.
National competition is separated into three parts: prelims, semis and finals. The Perry County girls placed first in the prelims, so they were able to bypass the semis. During their performance in finals they had one small mistake which cost them first place. However, the rest of the routine was still good enough to place them in second.
Due to the team’s consistently strong record and top 10 showings in every national competition the girls have competed in since the seniors were freshmen, they were asked to compete in the newly formed world competition.
“In order to get in to worlds, we had to be in the top 10 last year in nationals, and they had to hand select us to be in the competition,” explained Smith.
The world competition was run by ICU, International Cheer Union, the same company that runs the high school nationals in the United States and the College nationals.
“There are several different national competitions, but this is the national high school cheerleading championship that you see on ESPN. This is the same group that hosts the college national championship that you see UK win,” said Coach Kim Chaney.
The World Competition took place at Disney World where the team competed against teams from across the globe.
“The girls getting to see the teams of China and Japan, and that in itself is just amazing and is more than educational for the girl to get to meet them,” said Chaney.
The coaches said that the teams from across the world all had different styles which made for a very interesting mix of routines. After all of the teams had performed, the small team from Eastern Kentucky came out on top.
“It’s the best we have ever done,” said Smith. “I really think it is more than any of us thought we could ever do. It’s more than we could ever expect.”
The girls said that one of the main goals for the team was to catch everyone off guard and show what the team could do despite people’s preconception about them.
“That was one of our big things was showing people that we could do it even though they thought we couldn’t,” said Smith.
When the team returned home from winning nationals, they were welcomed by fire engines driving them back into the county.
“All of our families came out to support us and some of our teachers, and when we came back our principal came and we were escorted by fire trucks,” said senior Kayla Carol. “We wore our jackets and our Mickey Mouse ears. We were coming back prepared.”
Following the girls’ world championship run in Florida, the next weekend they competed for the state title. Perry County won, making for an amazing couple of weeks for the team. The team credits this success to continued prayers.
“I think a big thing this year with our team is how much we pray before practice and how much we really just let God do what he wanted to do with our team,” said Smith.
The coaches also give a lot of the credit to the girls’ work ethic and focus.
“This is a really, really good bunch of girls. They work hard and they came in from freshman year on,” said Dixon.
This year’s team has six seniors, meaning nearly half of the 15-person team will be graduating.
“We were so emotional at nationals because we wanted it so much for them,” said Dixon, adding that this senior group of girls has been a great group to work with, which made senior night very emotional.
While most of the seniors said it will be sad to leave the team when they graduate, Carol said that she is happy with how the season ended.
“I am not (sad), because we had a good year,” she said. “I am glad we got to end on a good note.”
The team is continuing to practice and cheer for the Perry County Lady Commodores as they continue through the state basketball tournament. They may yet have another chance of winning another state title for in-game cheering for the girls’ basketball team.
Their national and world performances will be seen on ESPN in the coming months, though those dates have not yet been set. The Herald will update on when these can be seen.