DuBOIS — All athletic teams work hard and want their opportunity to be successful, gain notoriety and claim championships. Through the years, the high school cheerleading ranks have always seen their members work as hard on their cheers, dances, stunts and tumbles as any of the other athletic teams on campus.
In Pennsylvania, the cheerleading teams, though, were always listed as having to be consider an ‘other category’ of sport. The cheer squads never had their chance for due honors and district and state title acclaim.
The frustrating times of always being the supporters and celebrating classmates' championships and accolades take on an exciting new era starting today.
For the first time, the PIAA, after years of debate and drumming up backing to the idea, will have its inaugural state championships in cheerleading this year. The drive to be the first schools to earn state champion acclaim begins at the DuBois Area High School this morning for the District IX title.
The 14-team District IX competition will begin at 10 a.m. Punxsy will be in the field with fellow district schools of Cranberry, A-C Valley, Clarion-Limestone, Key- stone, Elk County Catholic, St. Marys, North Clarion, Curwensville, Redbank Valley, Bradford, host DuBois and DuBois Central.
The top five varsity cheerleading squads will earn the right to move onto the PIAA state championships held in Hershey this February. At Hershey, the competition will be split in two divisions, with 96 total squads from around the state taking part.
The District IX format will be different than the state ranks. It will be the top five teams moving onto Hershey with no regard to size of school.
“We will be up against some tough schools,” said Punxsy head coach Julie Baun. “We have practiced since July, and I think we have a shot. Our girls are very dedicated group of girls in the gym, and I feel like we are going in prepared.”
The cheerleading teams will be on site at the DuBois Area High School bright and early, as the event requires teams to be there for a three hour warm-up preceding the event. All the sweat and hard work for Punxsy and its competitors will come down to two and a half minutes to show their might on the mat. Each team will have only that amount of time to show its best with no makeups or second chances.
The cheer squads will be judged in the 150 seconds of rehearsed, choreographed synchronization on the four categories of cheer, dance, stunting and tumbling.
The Lady Chucks will take the limelight’s center stage sixth of the 14 teams. Punxsy will give its best but does have a challenge of another sort.
“We are a smaller team of only 10 girls,” pointed out Baun. “Some squads are in the 20s. We are smaller, but strong.”
The small in number but strong in stature Lady Chucks are looking for the same type of local support the team regularly gives each Friday night and many times multiple evenings to the other athletic teams.
“It would be nice if people are looking for something to do Saturday to have the community support,” added Baun.
With the Christmas season upon us, the area community can stop at the cheerleading championships in the morning to watch a hopeful new era of Punxsy athletes make its mark in Hershey on the state level and cap off the day with an afternoon of holiday shopping.