Share This Page

WPIAL to crown first competitive spirit champion Saturday

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

The North Allegheny cheerleading squad is no stranger to high-level competition — or to success and accolades.

But come Saturday, the Tigers have an opportunity to be awarded something they've never had a chance to attain: A WPIAL championship.

North Allegheny is one of 25 schools, split into three enrollment classifications, that will compete in the inaugural WPIAL competitive spirit championships Saturday at North Hills High School.

“Our team is excited for it because I think for the student body and the school, it legitimizes the sport a little more,” North Allegheny coach Courtenay Carrel said. “Especially since we've never had this. The football team, they win a WPIAL championship and go onto the state championship, most of the student body, they get that and understand what that means to the school. Our team, too.”

As North Hills athletic director Dan Cardone put it, “You're competing for a WPIAL championship. That's always meant something.”

Eighteen of the teams competing Saturday also will earn the opportunity to compete for a PIAA championship.

The seven top-scoring schools in Class AAA, top two in Class AA and top three in Class A are guaranteed PIAA championship berths. Of the remaining schools, regardless of classification, the top six will also qualify to compete Feb. 2 at the Giant Center in Hershey.

With the sport only recently recognized by PIAA, WPIAL officials did not know how many schools from each enrollment class would enter a team. As a result, classifications are unbalanced — 14 are in Class AAA, four in Class AA and seven in Class A.

“The (WPIAL) board felt it was much more fair for schools to compete with schools of similar size, just like in everything else,” WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said.

O'Malley said the PIAA approved cheerleading for a statewide championship last spring. It initially intended on hosting a competition open to any school that wished to enter before realizing the event would draw more than the maximum number of teams permitted.

That left the task of determining qualifiers up to individual districts, which were each given a number of slots to fill as they saw fit.

Judges will be provided by the Universal Cheerleaders Association. Carrel, who works for UCA, said scoring will incorporate all forms of cheerleading: Stunting, pyramids, tumbling, jumps, dance and traditional cheer.

Teams composed of five to 30 members will perform a presentation including at least one cheer or sideline chant, as well as a musical portion not exceeding 1 minute, 30 seconds. Entire routines will be limited to 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

“A lot of practice goes into that two-and-a-half minutes, that's for sure,” Carrel said.

North Allegheny has qualified for the Universal Cheerleaders Association national high school championships the past eight years, finishing as a finalist five times in the previous seven appearances.

Now, it can win a WPIAL title.

“There's a lot of interest for the sport in this area and in the state,” Carrel said. “I wouldn't be surprised if there's more than 50 teams next year, once word gets out and there's time to prepare. But for now, there's (25) teams that are really excited to be the first-ever WPIAL champion. We'll find out who Saturday.”

Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.