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Norwin cheerleaders prepare for season of competition

| Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Members of the Norwin competitive spirit cheerleading team are, in front, from left: Lindsay Westwood, Siarra Shoff, Cassidy Steinkopf, Paige Dieter, Jenna Mandella, Riley Majiros, Kaitlin O'Donnell, Bria Cashdollar and Bailey White; in the middle, from left: Sydney Schweitzer, Marissa Horsman, Jennie Worek, Emily Leverich, Nicole Javorski, Kayla Schehr, Marissa Morrell and Marissa Pusateri; and in back, from left: Angela Harshmen, Lauren Kachman, Kirsten Leddon, Gianna Detore, Mckenzie Daugherty, Kelsey Majiros, Megan Cifone, Jordan Harrison, Hannah Ciarolla, Ali Dunlay, Delaney White and Julia Reitler. The team is coached by Linda Rundy, Spencer Rundy and Danielle Hoge.

The Norwin cheerleaders competition spirit team began with a flourish in 2012-13, its first year of competition.

Heading into the current season, the team is raising its expectations.

A season after competing in just two events — the WPIAL and PIAA competitions — and earning top-10 finishes in both, Norwin will compete in an additional two events this season. The season will begin this weekend with a Norwin Police Athletic League competition.

“We're slowly getting into it, and it's exciting because (there's) a lot of talent in this group, a lot of talent in this school,” coach Linda Rundy said. “The girls are excited about doing it.”

The team consists of 30 girls from Norwin High School, including nine seniors, eight juniors, 10 sophomores and three freshmen. In addition to Linda Rundy, Spencer Rundy and Danielle Hoge work as the team's coaches.

Financially, the team is supported by parents, fundraisers and sponsors, operating independently of the school district.

“We have wonderful sponsorship,” Rundy said.

Last season, Norwin placed seventh at the WPIAL meet and ninth at the PIAA meet.

“I think we did an awesome job,” said senior Paige Dieter, one of the team's captains. “We really came together as a team, at the end especially. This year, we just want to prove to ourselves we can do better than last year and hopefully get a first place.”

Norwin began practicing for the upcoming season of competition in August. The squad practices for three hours each Sunday at the Legend Athletics All Star Cheer gym in North Huntingdon.

“We don't stop from start to finish,” senior captain Jenna Mandella said. “We are always moving, and we don't take many breaks throughout the practice.”

In high school cheerleading competitions, routines consist of a cheer, followed by stunts, tumbling, pyramids and dancing. Routines can not exceed a time limit of two minutes and 30 seconds.

“We have a non-stop routine,” Dieter said. “We're always going, always pushing for our next skill. We have a lot of tumbling and a lot of cool stunts that we're hoping to hit.”

“It's a lot going on in that minute and a half (after the opening cheer),” senior captain Bria Cashdollar said.

In addition to the weekly practices, Norwin's cheerleaders also cheer at football and boys soccer games.

Recently, the team began cheering for the girls volleyball team during the WPIAL and PIAA playoffs.

“We get to practice our stunts and try to perfect them at a game so we can practice in front of the crowd a little bit,” senior captain Riley Majiros said.

In addition to Sunday's PAL competition, Norwin will compete at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in the coming weeks.

The WPIAL and PIAA meets are scheduled for January.

“It's very nerve-wracking because there's so many teams (and) they're just as good as you, some even better,” Cashdollar said. “You really have to give it your all and push to get the best.”

Linda Rundy said the team would use the early meets as a way to see how judges are scoring their routine heading into the bigger competitions in January.

“There's a lot of talent on this team,” she said. “And once the girls get out there, they love to perform This is a performing team. They were last year, and it's just about the same girls. But it was exciting, and I think they can have (success again) this year. We're waiting for that first competition to get in front of people and perform.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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