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Bethel Park spirit team celebrates PIAA championship

| Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, 10:33 p.m.
The Bethel Park cheerleading team competed at the PIAA spirit championships Jan. 21, 2017, in Hershey.
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The Bethel Park cheerleading team competed at the PIAA spirit championships Jan. 21, 2017, in Hershey.

One of the goals of the Bethel Park competitive spirit cheerleading squad this season was to win a PIAA championship.

Check that task off its “to-do” list.

The Bethel Park cheerleaders took first place in the small varsity division at the PIAA competitive spirit championships Jan. 21, in Hershey.

“Our goal this year was to win states,” Bethel Park coach Andreana Radomski said. “We came out of states last year in fourth place, and we wanted to beat that this year.

“We really worked on increasing our tumbling and difficulty, so that we would have a shot at the title. There are so many talented teams in the small division that we knew it was going to take a difficult and well-executed routine to win. The top four teams were all WPIAL teams, so we knew how incredibly talented they were going in.”

The Black Hawk girls ended up with a team score of 81.53 to finish ahead of Pine-Richland (80.30), Hampton (79.93), Butler (79.53) and Upper Darby (78.90).

Teams were judged on presentation of material, motions, skills and execution during the cheer portion of the tournament; and on pyramids, tumbling, jumps and dance in the music portion.

“At the PIAA (championships), all the teams compete in the preliminary round. In each preliminary group, the top quarter of the teams move straight to the finals, and the next quarter move on to the semifinal round. After the preliminary round, we scored high enough to move on to the finals,” Radomski said. “We knew we needed to come out stronger in the final round. We needed to clean up our tumbling and stunting. We knew we had one of the most difficult routines in the division, but we needed to make sure we performed it cleaner than we did in the first round.

“The girls had an amazing performance in the final round. We knew coming off the mat that we did all we could and it was in the judges' hands. I was so proud of their performance. All of the hours of hard work culminated in the strongest performance I have seen all season long. Regardless of the outcome, we could leave there knowing that we did the best job we could. We have had many ups and downs this season, but they came together as a team, and they never gave up on their goal.”

There are 16 girls on Bethel Park's competitive spirit cheerleading squad, consisting of seniors Erin Brown, Tessa Guarino and Kelsey Quinn; juniors Tori Magnotti, Madison Ottaviano, Camrie Peters and Riley Ruscak; sophomores Ashlyn Lutton, Gabrielle Miller, Taylor Morosetti, Kelly Shelpman and Angela Vorko; and freshmen Alyssa Arnold, Riley Evans, Haley Vincent and Jaime Skelton.

The Black Hawk girls opted to not select team captains this season.

“We don't have captains,” said Radomski, who is assisted by Christina Zedreck. “Our team's motto going into this was, ‘Let's Do It, Together!' .... and they did it, together!”

Bethel Park advanced to the PIAA championships by placing among the top four seeds in the small group category at the WPIAL competitive spirit cheerleading finals.

The Black Hawk girls now are gearing for the UCA High School Nationals to be held Feb. 11-12, in Orlando, Fla.

Bethel Park, which has fielded a varsity competitive spirit cheerleading team for five years, won a national championship last year.

“We have an awesome support system, including a lot of our alumni cheerleaders who really paved the way so this team can have the success that it has (experienced),” Radomski said. “Our program has been able to achieve success in such a short time because of the hard work and dedication of the girls, coaches and families through the years.”

Aside from competing and cheering at games, the Bethel Park cheerleaders are involved in community service activities throughout the year.

“We have partnered with Special Olympics of Allegheny County, and the girls cheer at various events throughout the year,” Radomski said. “They are also involved in the Joey Fabus Childhood Cancer Foundation. And, along with the school, we sponsor a ‘Gold Out Night' at one of the home football games.

“I am so thankful that (former Bethel Park athletic director) Amy Scheuneman trusted me enough to take on the task of creating a competitive program at Bethel Park.”

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.

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