Bethel Park, Elizabeth Forward, Chartiers-Houston repeat as WPIAL spirit champions

Saturday, January 5, 2019 | 4:39 PM

The year 2019 started off much the same way as 2018 did for some of the top competitive cheer squads in the area.

Bethel Park, Elizabeth Forward and Chartiers-Houston defended their titles, repeating as WPIAL competitive spirit champions during the competition Saturday at Hempfield.

“I can’t believe it,” Bethel Park coach Christina Zedreck said of her squad’s back-to-back Class AAA championships. “It’s all the girls. They worked so hard for this.”

Bethel Park edged Butler by less than half of a point on the 100-point scoring scale.

“I knew they did the best routine they could have, but I didn’t know (that it was a first-place routine),” Zedreck said. “You never know how these things are going to go. On any given day, anything can happen. I’m so proud of them.”

Elizabeth Forward’s title was the third straight for the Warriors, edging Hopewell for the Class AA championship. However, for the third straight year, the team missed out on the celebration, as the competitors returned home before the awards ceremony to attend the school’s winter formal.

Chartiers-Houston was the only Class A squad to compete at the championships. The Bucs title marks the fourth championship in the last six years, and four straight titles in years where they have competed.

Along with the classification awards, 15 schools qualified for the PIAA championships to be held in Hershey on Jan. 11-12.

Butler won the large squad competition (21-30 competitors) for the second straight year, followed by Baldwin and Norwin. Butler will compete in the coed division at the state level.

Thomas Jefferson won in the medium squad title (16-20 competitors), beating out Franklin Regional and Shaler on the podium. Penn-Trafford and Elizabeth Forward also got automatic bids out of the medium squad division.

Bethel Park repeated as well in winning the small squad competition. Pine-Richland, South Fayette and Hopewell also qualified.

Along with the automatic bids, three at-large selections finalized the district’s representatives for the state competition. South Park (small squad), North Allegheny (medium squad) and North Hills (large squad) also will make the trip to Hershey next weekend.

For Zedreck and her squad, it will be a week of preparation before the next big competition. But there is time to celebrate a bit, first.

“They can have tomorrow off,” she said.

James Dotson is a freelance writer.

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