Local cheerleading squads will be among more than 160 to take their best routines to state competition Saturday.
Squads from Fort Dodge Senior High, St. Edmond, Prairie Valley, Southeast Webster-Grand, Humboldt, East Sac County, South Central Calhoun, Bishop Garrigan and Emmetsburg will be looking to become the best in their classes at the Iowa High School Cheerleading Championships at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.
It is the culmination of nearly four months of work for many teams.
For the Coed Squad at Fort Dodge Senior High, the road to state competition began in August when they worked with a choreographer to learn their original routine.
"We're a lot different this year," said senior Lexie Stevens. "We have new uniforms and a whole new routine style."
The FDSH squad took first place in its division at the Triton Challenge Oct. 27, which gave them an extra boost leading into the busy state competition week.
State Cheerleading Championships
When: 8:30 a.m. Saturday
Where: Iowa State Fairgrounds, Des Moines
Cost: $5 admission
Schedule: Southeast Webster-Grand, 9:42 a.m.; Bishop Garrigan, 11:36 a.m.; Emmetsburg, 11:40 a.m.; South Central Calhoun, 12:08 p.m.; East Sac, 12:48 p.m.; Humboldt, 4:03 p.m.; FDSH, 4:27 p.m.; East Sac Time Out Squad, 8:48 a.m.; St. Edmond Stunt Group A, 8:51 p.m.; St. Edmond Stunt Group B, 8:54 a.m.; Prairie Valley Stunt Group A, 9:18 a.m.; Prairie Valley Stunt Group B, 9:21 a.m.; FDSH Time Out Squad, 10:49 a.m.; FDSH Stunt Group A, 10:52 a.m.; FDSH Stunt Group B, 10:55 a.m.; Humboldt Stunt Group A, 11:19 a.m.; Humboldt Stunt Group B, 11:22 a.m.
"It definitely helps them," said FDSH cheer coach K.C. Williams. "The Triton Challenge competition definitely helps them work out their nerves and gives them a chance to work on a nice, clean routine."
Senior Allix Williamson said the squad set goals for the year, but they have done even better than they would have hoped for.
"It's been going really well," said Williamson. "We've exceeded our own expectations. We were very happy with Saturday's performance at Iowa Central and we hope for the same at state."
Senior squad member Ian Brown said the hard work of preparing for a competition is worth it in the end. "It gets a little crazy, but I enjoy it."
The Prairie Valley Cheer Squad is also coming off a win in its division at the Triton Challenge. They took first place in the 1A and small team stunt divisions and won the overall Small School Grand Champion Award.
Senior members of the Prairie Valley squad have taken second place in their division at state for the past three years.
"We're working for No. 1 this year," said senior Kendra Nelson.
The squad has polished its routine, putting in hours of rehearsal.
"We practiced 24 hours in one week," said Jacey Hanna, a senior.
"Sometimes you have to change it up," said Nicole Vought, also a senior. "There are things in the music to change, sometimes stunts you can't hit."
"I love when we're out on the mat and everyone cheers when you know you hit everything just right; that's the best feeling ever," said Tristin Nelson, another senior from Prairie Valley.
This year, competition will be bit tougher. Prairie Valley moved from the small team division to Class 1A, DeBaun said.
The Humboldt High School cheer squad is going where it has never gone before, giving the class 3A division a try. This is the first year the squad is competing in cheer/dance.
"It's a lot of hard work," said Humboldt sophomore Rachel Buss.
"A lot of these girls just learned to tumble this summer," said Humboldt cheer coach Karin Thiele. "We didn't have any with All-Star or much dance or tumbling experience. We're starting from scratch."
The St. Edmond High School Cheer Squad is also coming off a first place finish at the Triton Challenge.
"That was a huge lift of confidence for us to win at the Triton Challenge," said senior Kylie Guldenpfennig. "We need to give ourselves more credit than we do."
"We like state because it's finally all about us," said Sarah Crimmins, another St. Edmond senior. "All year we cheer for everyone else and now its all for us."