Photo by Theo Tate
The Granite City cheerleading team finished seventh in the Illinois Cheerleading Coaches Association state competition on Jan. 10 in Springfield. Members include Claire Ames, Emma Basola, Alex Bazzel, Kelsey Clark, Zoey Clark, Zaria Corbin, Erynn Cotter, A’tyanna Dixon, Jordan Hall, Paige Hogle, Brooke Hudson, Kirsten Koenig, Krystle Marler, Ashlynn Merz, Bailee Palmisano, Bella Perkins, Emily Schulz, Regan Schur, Emma Tadlock, Keaton Tilson, Payton Tilson and Salena Toro.
GRANITE CITY — After placing first in two competitions, the Granite City High cheerleading team was setting its sights on turning in a solid showing at the Illinois Cheerleading Coaches Association state championships on Jan. 10 at Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield.
But the Warriors left Springfield with nothing.
Granite City came up one place short of placing in state competition, finishing seventh. The top six teams in the ICCA state meet earn either a trophy or plaque.
“We were .05 points away from taking fifth place,” GCHS coach Meagan Watkins said. “It was actually really close. It was hard, but we’ll take it. It’s a lot higher than it has been in the past. We’ll take that place.”
Belleville West beat the Warriors by .05 points for sixth place.
“It came down to small things — cleanliness, tightness, synchronization,” said Watkins, who is in her first season as GCHS cheerleading coach. “Our stunting skills were there. Our tumbling skills were there. It came down to somebody who was .05 points sharper, tighter and cleaner than us.”
Edwardsville, Bradley Bourbonnais, Oswego East, Rockford Guilford and O’Fallon finished in the top five and earned trophies.
Now, the Warriors are hoping to win a spot in the IHSA state competition on Feb. 5-6 at Bloomington. Granite City will compete in the large-school division of the Mahomet-Seymour sectional competition on Saturday. The top five teams in each division at sectionals qualify for state.
“We’re making changes, we’re getting stronger and we’re getting sharper,” Watkins said. “We’re gunning for that top five spot.”
Watkins said the seventh-place finish at ICCA state was disheartening for seniors such as Zaria Corbin, Erynn Cotter, Bailee Palmisano and Bella Perkins.
“They worked so hard for this all four years because they want to place at state again,” the GCHS coach said. “Two years ago, we took fourth at state. To take seventh was a little bit of a blow to them. They were so close.”
The Warriors have 22 cheerleaders on their team; eight of them are sophomores. Watkins said her team displays a strong work ethic in practice.
“We worked every day of the week,” Watkins said. “Every day of the week where we’re not at a basketball game, we’re practicing two to three hours a night at the gym just trying to get our skills to the point where you can’t get it wrong. We’re working, working and working and they work so hard.”
The Warriors placed first in competitions at Waterloo on Nov. 22 and Alton on Nov. 29.