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Charles Henderson cheerleaders

place third in national competition

By STEVEN G. WATSON

Sports Editor

The Charles Henderson High cheerleaders continued their reign of excellence with a third place showing at the National Championships in Nashville over the weekend.

As the defending champs, CHHS came into the competition as the squad to beat. While not taking the No. 1 spot after all was said and done, the team felt they performed their routine to the best of their ability and with the competition as fierce as it was felt justified.

"We knew before we got there that we had to have a perfect routine, we couldn’t fall," CHHS coach Michelle Armstrong said. "There was no room for error at all.

"In the preliminaries we didn’t fall we just bobbled and that may have been good because once we got to finals they did their best," she continued. "We knew once we got finished with finals that we had done our job. It just depends on what the judges like and what they see. You do all you can, but then it’s up to the judges."

The judges awarded a strong Ider High School squad the championship, placing Sandrock (both Alabama schools) second.

"There were some very talented squads up there, but coming in you pretty much expect that," senior squad captain Jennifer Hall said. "It pretty much just went to the judges on who finished first. The main thing was that we all went up there and had a lot of fun."

There was obviously a small letdown after the group of nine girls worked as hard as they did for as long as they did. Still, taking two third place finishes and one National Championship in three years is an honor not many can boast about.

"I guess it’s always a letdown when you work that hard and you don’t come out on top, but we’re still proud of third," Armstrong said. "We fell behind two outstanding squads and it wasn’t that we beat ourselves or something. We did the best that we could do and that’s all that I ask of them. We couldn’t have done anything any better."

One thing the CHHS squad wasn’t lacking in was support. Over 80 Troy residents and supporters showed up in Nashville for the event and rooted the girls throughout the prelims and finals.

"It makes you feel better wether you’re on the mat or not," Armstrong said of all the support her squad received. "To know that many people care enough to spend part of their Christmas break in Nashville with you it makes the girls feel real good. We probably had the best cheering section there, it was unreal."

"This year we had tons of people come and it was so great to have them cheering for us," Hall said. "We knew everybody who came, but we didn’t realize how many it was going to be till we got there. It was pretty amazing."

Three CHHS members were also recognized individually at the competition. Hall, Miki Wilkes and Andrea Domizio all made the event’s "Team America," which was compiled of 15 cheerleaders out of 56 who tried out.

Of the group Hall placed second overall and Wilkes finished third. The two girls won scholarships of $1,000 and $500 respectively.

"I guess individually it shows you how strong we are," Armstrong said. "We got the second and third place girls out of 56 that competed individually. They wouldn’t be that strong, however, if it wasn’t for the other six or seven girls cheering with them. I was very impressed with them as I was with the whole squad."

This was the last go around for six of the nine-member group who will be graduating at the end of the school year. That will be some big shoes for Armstrong and her squad to fill, but if history serves it will come to pass and the next group will carry on what has become a tradition at Charles Henderson High School.