TOPEKA — The Paola Lady Panther cheerleading squad placed fourth in the KSHSAA Game Day Spirit Showcase Competition.
Paola was one of 14 teams competing in Class 4A.
It was the second year for the Lady Panthers to compete in the event and first year to place in the top four, winning individual medals at the competition held at Stormont Vail Event Center in Topeka on Saturday, Nov. 23.
Paola was one of six teams to advance to the finals. The top three teams win team trophies and individual medals. The fourth-place team receives individual medals.
“My goal was to get to the finals this year,” Paola coach Regina Hollinger said. “We were waiting for our name to be called, and I was overwhelmed with excitement to hear them announce Paola.”
Each cheerleading squad performs crowd leading (cheer), band chant and fight song. Each performance has a one minute time limit.
In the finals, the squad performs for three minutes. Each squad does their band chant followed by a sideline situational where an announcer calls out a play and the squad must respond appropriately with an offense or defensive chant. Then the team performs their crowd leading cheer and ends with the fight song.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better final performance,” Hollinger said. “The girls gave it their all. Standing there with the girls waiting for the final awards, I just couldn’t believe it.
“When they called our name for fourth place, I couldn’t have been more excited,” she said. “The girls not only hit my goal, but surpassed it by bringing home fourth in the state.”
Members of the Lady Panther fourth-place cheerleading squad are Katelyn Gibson, Livi Beets, Emi Zeller, Haleigh West, Kylee Slyter, Bailey Gagenbin, Kayle Mahanke, Carlie Stallbaumer, Taylor Murdock, Gracie Richmond, Molly Eilts, Tyler Rosner, Justice Quillin, Jacie Collier, Alea Russell, Brett Hudgeson, Liv Meredith, Cynrah Ova and Halle Schlegel.
The Paola Lady Panther cheerleaders train year-round, Hollinger said.
The team began practicing for the Game Day competition for weeks while also cheering for the Panther football team in the postseason.
“Everyone worked hard for state,” said Hollinger, who has been with the program for five years. “Getting ready for their final performance, the girls work hard in the short amount of time given to us after we received our scores from the individual performances and corrected everything. They were amazing.”