Baldwin spirit squad pleased with WPIAL performance, looks forward to state meet

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Sunday, January 22, 2023 | 11:01 AM


The 2022-23 season has been a learning experience for many of the girls on the Baldwin competitive spirit cheerleading squad.

And they’ve been taught well. The Highlanders placed third in the large squad division at the WPIAL championships Jan. 7, at Hempfield.

“We have 21 total cheerleaders this season and 12 of them are either brand new to our program, brand new to their stunting position, or both,” said Taryn Madden, who shares the coaching duties with Dena Mihalsky. “So, we had half our team competing at such a high level that day and I think everyone did really well.

“The team pulled together and fought hard to execute the elite level skills they are performing.”

Hempfield took first place among the large squads with 88.8 points, followed by Penn-Trafford (85.7), Baldwin (85.5) and North Allegheny (85.1). All four teams qualified for the PIAA finals set for Jan. 27-28, in Hershey.

“We are incredibly proud of the routine our team performed at the WPIAL competition,” Mihalsky said. “It was the most difficult routine we’ve ever been able to put out on the floor in all aspects of the scoresheet, and the girls have worked so hard to be able to compete the skills included in our routine.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to compete at the PIAA competitive spirit championship this year with this group of girls.”

Baldwin’s competitive cheerleading squad consists of seven seniors, three juniors, five sophomores and six freshmen.

The senior class is represented by Alana Beerman, Paige Brain, Samantha Davis, Skylar Kelly, Michaela Rohe, Ava Vavro and Ava Wodarek.

Rohe, Davis and Beermann are serving as co-captains.

“We did as much as we could at the WPIAL finals, and I am so proud of everyone for being so versatile and hard-working,” Rohe said.

The 18-year-old Rohe has been cheering for 13 years. Rohe has a 4.1 GPA and participates in the National Honor Society and Service Club. She also has served as a junior and senior class officer on the executive board.

Rohe has been a competitive cheerleader for eight years.

“I believe our top goal for PIAA finals is to hit our routine and be satisfied within ourselves and how our performance goes,” she said. “We really want to do it for our coaches, ourselves and all of our supporters like our family, friends and alumni. We want to make them proud.”

Similar to Rohe, Davis and Beermann were extremely proud of their team’s performance at the WPIAL event.

“All of our hard work and dedication to this routine showed through our performance at WPIALs,” Davis said. ”Our goals (now) are to hit our routine at the PIAA finals and to feel proud and confident in our performance. We all have our own reasons as to why we are pushing ourselves to our limits and we are all going to fight and perform for those reasons.”

Davis is 17, has been a cheerleader for five years and a competitive cheerleader for four years. She has a 3.7 GPA and is a part of the NHS, Best Buddies and Special Olympics.

Beermann said it wasn’t a perfect performance at Hempfield but it was one of the best of the season.

“I am proud of our team and how far we have come this season,” she said. “We had a fall but, overall, it was one of the best performances we’ve had and we all really worked together to make it happen.

“We are working a lot on consistency in hopes of hitting our routine at the state competition. We are also cleaning up the routine.”

Beermann, 17, has been a cheerleader since she was 6 and has been competing for Baldwin since her freshman year. She is a member of the Spanish Club and Chill Club.

All three Baldwin captains relish their roles as team leaders and positive role models.

Rohe believes she, Davis and Beermann act as captains on an almost daily basis.

“I try as much as possible to remind everyone why we want to do good and what our purposes are for being there at every practice and every competition,” Rohe said.

Davis said, “Some of my duties are to keep everyone’s spirits up and to be as positive as possible through difficult times. Also, to make sure that the team remembers the reason that they are doing it.”

And Beermann added, “My main job is to encourage the girls and keep everyone working hard and working together. I try to ensure that we are all fighting for the same goals, and to be a positive role model for the younger girls.”

Carly Birks, Grace Iaquinta and Brooklyn Lucas are the only juniors on this year’s competitive cheer squad at Baldwin.

The sophomore class is represented by Leah Moeller, Mia Polito, Alayna Scanlon, Madison Sulinski and Gia Tirpak. Freshman team members are Carly Dowhy, Anne Hampton, Maris Kilby, Keira Kozak, Addison Longo and Addy Scurry.

Although the WPIAL finals took place at Hempfield, Madden said the Baldwin girls felt at home in the Spartans’ gym.

“The WPIAL competition is one of our favorites because we have such an amazing fan section that exudes our ‘All In’ motto,” she said. “Our alumni are home from college (at that time) and sit right up front with the coaches, helping the girls push through just like they did.

“We are really looking forward to competing again at states at the end of the month and then again at the UCA nationals in February.”

Under the guidance of Madden and Mihalsky, Baldwin’s competitive cheerleaders have qualified for the Universal Cheerleaders Association nationals for nine consecutive years.

Last year was unique in that the UCA national event took place virtually.

Teams recorded their routines in their home gym and submitted them to UCA Nationals through an online portal, to be judged against teams who also entered that specific competition.

“Our team was able to get qualifying scores for both the mat (traditional routine) and gameday routine,” Madden said. “This was the first time our routines were showcased for the year in which we placed first in mat and second in our gameday.”

The Baldwin cheerleaders undoubtedly are looking forward to competing at nationals in person this season.

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