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Hot Cheer All-Stars team finishes in fourth at worlds

Doug Gulasy
| Tuesday, June 11, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
The Hot Cheer All-Stars competed at the 2013 Cheerleading Worlds from April 27-29, 2013, at Disney's Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla. The team, comprised of students from several local school districts, including Norwin, placed fourth out of 96 teams in its division. On the team were, in front, from left, Aly Geraci, Hannah Chrisman, Skyler Tewell, Taylore Kwiecinski, Brianna Bennett and Sarah Brooks; and in back, from left, Brooke Schottenheimer, Megan Dodd,  Billy Sewchok, Asia Dove, Nicholas Herrle, Marissa Sommers, Travis Troya, Madisyn Saunders and Alexandra Corella.
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The Hot Cheer All-Stars competed at the 2013 Cheerleading Worlds from April 27-29, 2013, at Disney's Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla. The team, comprised of students from several local school districts, including Norwin, placed fourth out of 96 teams in its division. On the team were, in front, from left, Aly Geraci, Hannah Chrisman, Skyler Tewell, Taylore Kwiecinski, Brianna Bennett and Sarah Brooks; and in back, from left, Brooke Schottenheimer, Megan Dodd, Billy Sewchok, Asia Dove, Nicholas Herrle, Marissa Sommers, Travis Troya, Madisyn Saunders and Alexandra Corella.

The Hot Cheer All-Stars' third trip to the Cheerleading Worlds was the charm.

The team, comprised primarily of students from the Norwin School District, took fourth out of 96 teams at the 2013 Cheerleading Worlds held earlier this spring at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla.

“Nobody in Pittsburgh has ever placed higher,” Hot Cheer owner Kelly Makay said of the team's achievement. “There's one team that has gotten fourth twice. There's several gyms in the Pittsburgh area, and that's the highest a Pittsburgh gym's ever gotten.”

Previously, Hot Cheer's highest finish at the world competition was 28th place.

“I've been coaching since (1994),” Makay said. “That's probably the biggest achievement.”

Hot Cheer is based in Elizabeth, but Makay said Norwin and Elizabeth make up the biggest part of the gym's clientele. The gym has about 150 students spread across nine teams.

Of the 15 members of the Hot Cheer All-Stars, five hail from North Huntingdon: Sarah Brooks, Hannah Chrisman, Megan Dodd, Taylore Kwiecinski and Travis Troya. Other members of the team came from Baldwin, Belle Vernon, Elizabeth, Greensburg, North Versailles, Pleasant Hills, South Park and West Mifflin.

North Huntingdon was the only municipality represented by more than two members of the team.

The team, comprised of three boys and 12 girls, competed in the small coed division at the world championships. It competed as a Level 5 team, comprising the age group of 12-18 years old.

Hot Cheer competes in eight to 10 events a year, Makay said. In order to advance to worlds, the team had to secure an at-large or paid bid at one of those competitions.

“We're a pretty strong program,” Makay said. “We tend to win a lot of choreography awards.”

Makay said the team secured both an at-large bid and a paid bid, with the paid bid allowing the team to skip the preliminary round at worlds and move straight to the semifinals. The team then had to finish in the top 10 teams in the semifinal round in order to move on to the finals.

“It is truly an international event,” Makay said of the world competition. “There is more representation from our country than others, but there are several other countries that participate.”

While the team's fourth-place finish marked Hot Cheer's best placing at worlds, it wasn't the end of the exciting news for the team. Troya and Nicholas Herrle recently were accepted to the California All Stars. The two will live in California for the next year and travel to competitions all over the country.

In the meantime, Hot Cheer already held its tryouts for next season.

Because Troya and Herrle moved on to California, the Hot Cheer All-Stars will compete as an all-girls squad next season.

The gym will hold its annual showcase, which includes a mock competition, in October. The first regular competition is scheduled for November.

“We're tracking (kids)' skills throughout the year — what do they start with, what do they finish with, do they regress at all?” Makay said. “(We) track injuries — do they happen at certain times of practice, on certain teams more than others? It's a pretty systematic approach.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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