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Shaler team takes gold at world cheerleading competition

| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Pine Creek
The Shaler varisty cheerleading squad won a national championship last weekend.
Members of the Shaler Area High School competitive cheerleading team won the world championship in Orlando, Fla., in the small varsity division. Submitted

Getting to go out on top is a fete often attempted, but few manage to pull off.

After missing the cut to go to the national finals by 0.2 of a point (Shaler finished 18th out of 52 teams at nationals), the Lady Titans cheerleading squad regrouped and went on to compete in the World School Championship (also held in Orlando).

Although they fell short of the initial goal, the team still returned home with a commendable accomplishment, earning the satin jackets and the gold medal that go along with being the World School Champion.

“Last year, we dreamed about winning worlds and getting the white jackets,” said Diana Cook, one of the team captains for Shaler. “I didn't want to compete at first, but I am glad the coaches made us do it.”

Cook said there were more teams competing this season than last, and the gratification of the win was two-fold. She said the practice space was limited, so she and the team practiced in the hotel lobby.

“We had to work hard and overcome adversity,” Cook said. “We pushed out the negativity and persevered.

“For me and Madison (Sauer), we wanted to leave a legacy to leave behind.”

The key element, according to Sauer, the other team captain, was giving their all no matter what.

“This was the last time we were going to compete together,” Sauer said. “I wanted everyone to leave it all on the floor.”

After the last routine was completed and the judges tallied the points, names were called out, with the lowest places being awarded first.

Sauer added that as each team got called, the excitement grew. When second place was announced as a team from Murrysville, the team started to realize it was the only one left that had not been called.

“It means a lot,” she said. “It was a tough year. I felt that as a captain I was letting the team down if we didn't walk away with this.

“I was upset about nationals, but getting to win Worlds made that kind of a good thing.”

Hannah Goetz is another cheerleader on the squad, and she said the team pulled together at just the right time.

“We went out all smiles and tried really hard to make our last time out our best time out,” she said. “At big events like this, you work so hard to get it perfect. I think we had a 34.3 out of a possible 35 points. It was our highest score ever.”

Goetz said the team worked hard all year on a difficult routine.

“We wanted that satin jacket,” Goetz said. “We never expected to win it in our wildest dreams.”

Goetz said people have stopped her and her teammates to talk, offer a congratulations or wish them well. One girl even stopped her and asked to feel the jacket. Goetz said she obliged.

“The six seniors led the way, and the underclassmen really stepped up,” Goetz said. “They did it for all of us, and it is really impressive. My team made my dream come true.”

In winning the World Championship, the Lady Titans beat out schools from China, Mexico and Ecuador as well as schools from America.

The Shaler team consists of Cook, Sauer, Goetz, Alison Dorn, Amanda King, Megan Sieber, Courtney Kinneavy, Elizabeth Defide, Katie Willis, Amber Kite, Taylor Laffey, Gina Iezzi and Jordan Haberman.

The team is coached by Phyllis Schatz and Becky Troppman.

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