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Penn-Trafford cheerleaders earn state spot in first season of competition

| Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Penn-Trafford's competitive spirit team competes at the WPIAL championships on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014, at North Hills High School.

The Penn-Trafford competitive spirit team made its first trip to the WPIAL championships count.

Penn-Trafford finished fifth in the large-squad division at the championsips last weekend at North Hills High School, taking the spot as the top alternate and earning a bid to next weekend's PIAA Championships when another school declined its bid.

“The girls are so excited,” coach Kristi Lynn said. “They were thrilled before they even qualified for states. They nailed their performance completely.”

Competitive spirit is in its second year as a WPIAL-sanctioned sport, and Penn-Trafford competed for the first time this season.

Penn-Trafford's team, which consisted of all 21 varsity cheerleaders, began preparation for the WPIAL competition over the summer.

“The girls have not been able to do stunting for over a decade, so we started this summer with some basic stunts with lots of caution and lots of training,” Lynn said. “We had several clinics that we went to and several clinics that came to us to teach proper safety techniques. We decided to do the competition, and they made it to states, which is amazing in only a couple months of the whole new competition scene.”

Routines in competitive spirit include cheering, tumbling, stunting, dancing and pyramids within a time limit of two minutes and 30 seconds.

To prepare for such a difficult routine, Penn-Trafford hired choreographers and held extensive practices throughout the fall.

“On top of our normal schedule of games and practices, we've added another one to two practices a week since summer just for this,” Lynn said. “That's on top of their typical basketball and football cheerleading schedule.”

The practice paid off at the WPIAL competition, as Lynn said the team's stunting was especially strong.

“Since it was basic and we were so new to it, that they were still able to qualify for states (shows) they must have been really good at it,” she said.

The team will now turn its attention to the PIAA competition, which will take place next Friday and Saturday at the Giant Center in Hershey.

Lynn said one of the team's goals for next weekend will be to make it to the semifinals or finals Saturday.

Whatever happens, though, she said she's proud of the work her team has done already.

“They've never fought through all of this,” she said. “They've been completely dedicated and really true athletes.”

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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