TOPEKA — The Louisburg High School cheerleaders placed first in the 2019 KSHSAA Game Day Spirit Showcase Competition, winning the first girls team state championship in school history.
The Louisburg cheerleaders competed in the showcase at Stormont Vail Events Center in Topeka on Saturday, Nov. 23.
“I think that being the first girls team to bring home a title is amazing,” Louisburg cheerleading coach Jayna Guerra said. “I didn’t know that until recently. That’s awesome.
“Having that winning title, I think, also sheds light to the sport of high school cheerleading,” she said. “It is not just what you see on the sidelines. It is a very physically and mentally taxing sport. It is hard.”
Members of the Class 4A state champion Louisburg cheerleading squad are: Lexi Pena, Lauren Vincent, Ashlyn McManigal, Brooklyn Mitchell, Gabby Tappan, Andrea Gaza, Eleanor Willming, Jayden Trester, Lacie Kallevig, Sammy McDaniel, Mable Graham, Anna Morrison, Bella Feikert, Audrey Anderson, Sydney Dudzik, Kaitlyn Vest, Jolie Hendrickson, Abby Bradley and Zoe Cutshaw.
Louisburg was one of 14 teams competing in Class 4A. Class 1A and 2A each 11 teams. Fourteen teams competed in Class 3A. Class 5A and 6A each had 22 teams.
“State had an amazing atmosphere,” Guerra said. “There were a lot of teams there, and we were all supportive of each team going out onto the mat.”
Louisburg competed in crowd leading, band dance and fight song with each routine lasting one minute.
“I felt confident in my girls’ performances and just watched on the side as they performed each segment better than I could’ve imagined,” Guerra said.
After each of the three rounds, the Lady Cats didn’t have a single deduction. Guerra said she knew Louisburg was in the finals
Six teams advance to the finals.
Louisburg and Paola were among six finalists in Class 4A.
“I was blown away by their performance in the final round,” she said. “It was definitely the best performance they have had. My favorite moment was seeing the girls’ reactions, knowing they had won. It was just amazing. They deserved it, and I was more excited for them.”
The Louisburg cheerleaders began preparing for state in October with one to two, two-hour practices per week.
“I’m not going to say our journey was easy,” Guerra said. “We definitely had a lot of bumps in the road, from having to make changes often to fit the game day criteria, to not always having everybody at practice. There was always something that we had to work around, but we were able to overcome all those obstacles.
“Going into our last three days of practice, the girls really came together,” she said. “They were taking on leadership roles, voicing their concerns and asking questions. They took that initiative that last week to guarantee they went into the competition feeling prepared and confident. I just told the girls the things we needed to really focus on based on the prelim scores and judges’ comments, to give it their all, and to have fun. That is what they did. I am still over the moon.”
Guerra is in her first season as cheerleading coach at Louisburg. She has been involved in the sport for 11 years.
“I knew that the girls had a lot of potential but just needed structure and guidance” she said. “I offered those tools to them, and they are the ones who did the building.”
The KSHSAA Game Day Spirit Showcase Competition is a great event to spotlight cheerleading, the athleticism involved, the training and everything that goes into the sport behind the scenes, Guerra said.
“I hope that in the future, more people will understand that cheerleading isn’t just the pompoms and bows,” Guerra said. “It builds lifelong friendships and teaches valuable lessons about life.”
The cheerleaders learn to communicate and work as a team to achieve goals, preparing for success not only in cheerleading but in the work place, she said.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for cheerleading,” Guerra said. “I just feel very humbled, being able to share my experience and knowledge with the girls I coach now. I am very proud of the girls and their accomplishment.”