McIntosh finished second at the state cheerleading competition, losing on a narrow tiebreaker.

by Riley Hicks

All fall, Fayette schools have left their fingerprints in playoff competition with state championships, runner-up rewards, and other strong showings. Even with a bar already set high, our local cheerleaders put on a special performance at the state competition, placing three teams in the top four.

Schools featured in the meet included the McIntosh Chiefs, Starr’s Mill Panthers, and Whitewater Wildcats, all consistently front runners at the state competition on annual basis. McIntosh took second place, followed by the Panthers in third and the Wildcats fourth. The Carrollton Trojans edged out the Chiefs for first place on the narrowest of tiebreakers.

McIntosh cheerleaders came into the competition hoping for a repeat performance from last season when they captured the top prize. Every season, the Chiefs field one of the best squads in the state.

“We always aim to be number one and the best. If you’re not going for it all, why go at all” said McIntosh coach Shannon Bednarowski. “We work really hard. We refuse to get out worked. They want to be the very best whether it’s in sports, academics, or representing McIntosh.”

Each squad is judged on four categories: jumping, standing and running tumbling, primary and secondary partner stunts and pyramids, and the cheer and dance. The Chiefs scored a 25, 27, 45, and 9.33 in those areas, which set up a tie with Carrollton at 106.33. In the case of a tie, judges take away the cheer and dance and only average the jumps, tumbling, and stunts. This was where the Trojans solidified themselves as the champ by scoring a 25, 28, and 44, just narrowly defeating McIntosh for the crown.

“It was very clean, and I felt like they saved their best routine for last,” Bednarowski said of her team’s performance. “They absolutely did what they were supposed to do and what we were hoping to do and went out there and executed a near perfect routine.”

Starr’s Mill placed second at state.

Next season, McIntosh should remain a difficult squad to defeat as they are only graduating four seniors. They will be missed as they are good, quality leaders, Bednarowski said, but she believes the returning cheerleaders should step up in their place, and the upcoming freshmen class brings in another talented group of girls.

The Chiefs were flanked on the podium by their rival, Starr’s Mill. They nearly forced a three-way tie, but the Panthers fell short by a total score of 106.17. It seized 25 points in jumps, 28 in tumbling, 44 in stunts, and a 9.17 for their cheer.

“The girls did a fantastic job. It’s the best they’ve done all season long,” said Starr’s Mill coach Heather McNally. “We were incredibly proud of them. There is nothing I thought they could have done better.”

This marks the fourth year in a row that the Panthers positioned themselves in the top three at state. They remain a top contender each season because of a dedicated group of girls who work and practice hard, along with parents who are dedicated to the team, McNally said.

Just like the Chiefs, Starr’s Mill will graduate only four seniors this season. McNally hopes that other girls can step up and fill their shoes. If new leadership is found, then they will have another great chance at a championship.

The Wildcats finished just off the podium in the fourth place, finishing with a total score of 104.67. Whitewater’s scores were 25, 26, 45, and 8.67 respectively. This caps off a successful season for the Wildcats, who finished second in the region competition a week ago.

The force of cheerleading in Fayette isn’t likely to wain anytime soon. With the talent rising through the youth and middle school ranks, it will only keep getting better.

“Our county is a cheerleading powerhouse, unfortunately they divided us into three schools,” Bednarowski said. “It just speaks well for the caliber of the cheerleading in this area, the work ethic, the coaching, and the parental support.”