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The Owen County High School Competitive Cheer team is off to a great start this season and have already qualified for a trip to a national competition in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Jenna Gray, Maurice Bowling Middle School and OCHS cheer coach, said this is first time her squad has competed at CANAM in several years.
“In 2004, I took a middle school team to CANAM and we won the middle-school division,” Gray said. “In 2010, this group of varsity competed at a smaller national competition in Indianapolis called Celebration Nationals and they also won the middle-school division.
The team is also on something of a roll.
On Nov. 16, the team traveled to Bowling Green and competed in the Cheer Ltd Edge Championships.
Gray said the squad placed first in the varsity division and qualified for the National CANAM Championship in March 2014.
On Nov. 23, the Owen County girls competed in the Eighth Region KHSAA Competitive Cheer Competition and received runner-up to South Oldham High School. The Owen County squad’s performance outscored past champions from Oldham County, Simon Kenton, and Walton Verona high schools.
Grey said the team has been focusing on being competitive at the varsity level.
“These girls have done that the past two years by winning back-to-back regional championships and placing third in the state last year at the KHSAA Competitive Cheer State Championships,” Grey said. “ This year, we moved up to a larger division and competed with 20 girls instead of 12 and competed against very large schools in our region such as Oldham County, South Oldham, Walton Verona and Simon Kenton. We were runner-up this year to South Oldham High School.
The chance to take the spotlight at a national competition doesn’t necessarily come around every year, Gray said.
“Some of these girls have been working toward this for five or six years,” Gray said. “They are very excited to compete in one of the largest national competitions available to varsity squads.”
This year’s team is particularly athletic and is happy to show off their skills, Gray said.
“This team is particularly strong in stunts, jumps, but most of all in their performance and crowd- leading skills,” Gray said. “Everyone has always complimented this group on how clean their routine is but at the same time very fast paced and packed full of skills.”
The coach, along with the team members, are already working hard in anticipation of taking the stage in South Carolina.
“We have prepared for this level of competition by weight-training and conditioning in the off-season along with hiring a choreographer to do our routine and music so we would make sure we had the skills needed for this level of competition,” Gray said. “Along with preparing and cheering at ballgames, they have separate competition practices every week, gymnastics, and have performed in several exhibitions to gain confidence in their performance.
But like any competitors, the team will have to overcome some obstacles before grabbing gold. For the Owen County girls, money may be one of their toughest opponents.
To raise money for nationals, the team is hosting several fundraisers.
They will host Rebel Christmas Party for grades PK through fifth grade on Friday.
The cheerleaders and other volunteers will entertain the kids with crafts, games and movie for five hours from 3 to 8 p.m. in middle school multi-purpose room. The cost is $30 and forms can be found at each school and turned into the office for reservation.
Next year, Eddie Barber will be performing in concert Feb. 22 to help the team raise money for South Carolina trip. Tickets will include dinner and a concert for $25 each. Tickets can be purchased from any cheerleader or at any home basketball game prior to the event.
Gray said the community can also send donations directly to OCHS Cheer in care of the high school.