Bethel Park, Elizabeth Forward, Chartiers-Houston grab WPIAL spirit titles

Sunday, January 7, 2018 | 9:41 AM

While awaiting the results of the 2018 WPIAL Competitive Spirit Championships on Saturday, more than 500 cheerleaders found their way onto the mats and waited to hear their fate. As they waited, some of the cheerleaders danced and sang, some just sat there in anticipation. Some looked nervous or dejected, others crowd surfed.

And one squad was not even there to accept its first-place award. Again.

Elizabeth Forward repeated as the Competitive Spirit champions in Class AA. The members danced, much like the rest of the cheerleaders. However, the Warriors' cheer squad was dancing at home. The squad had to leave early in order to attend its winter formal.

However, once they received a text message from their coach, Amanda Reese, the excited responses of the team members came pouring in. It was the second year in a row the Warriors cheer squad had to wait to receive its gold medals because of the school dance.

Derry took the silver medal in Class AA.

Chartiers-Houston took the Class A championship in their its time competing in three years. Bishop Canevin finished second.

Bethel Park won class AAA, with Baldwin finishing second. Bethel Park is the defending PIAA Champions in the small group classification (15 or fewer members) but failed to win the district crown last season. That became a goal for this season's team, but coach Andreana Radomski was quick to say that there is more work to be done.

“This is a group that never is satisfied. I think that they will just continue to push and continue to work,” Radomski said. “Hopefully we'll do well (at states) as well.”

Sixteen teams WPIAL qualified for the PIAA championships Jan. 19-20 in Hershey.

Bethel Park advanced to the state competition as the top team in the small division. Hampton, Shaler, and Franklin Regional also qualified out of the small division.

Baldwin won the medium division (16-20 members). The Highlanders are the defending large division champions but chose to move down to compete in the medium classification this year. North Allegheny, Penn-Trafford, Hempfield and Derry also advanced to the PIAA championships in the medium division.

Butler took the top spot in the large division (21-30 members). It had competed in the small division in the five previous years of the competition. Norwin, Elizabeth Forward and South Park also advanced to Hershey in the large division. Butler will compete in the co-ed division at the state level.

Three at-large bids also qualified for the states with the next three highest scores regardless of class size. Pine-Richland (small division), South Fayette (small division) and Thomas Jefferson (large division) make return trips to Hershey.

However, it is not time to be complacent. For Bethel Park, it's about going beyond what happened a year ago.

“It's a new team, it's a new year,” Radomski said. “It's about winning these titles for a first time again. It's not about trying to repeat or trying to live up to the standards of the year before. It's just trying to push this team to the best of their abilities.”

James Dotson is a freelance writer.

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