Pine-Richland cheer team reaches PIAAs
By: Kevin Lohman
Sunday, January 7, 2018 | 11:25 PM
Despite being plagued with injuries, including ones that were suffered in the week leading up to the competition, the Pine-Richland competitive cheer team battled through and scored high enough at the 2018 WPIAL competitive spirit championships to clinch its sixth consecutive bid to PIAAs.
Competing in the Small Group Division, reserved for squads with 15 or fewer members, the Rams clinched one of the competition's three at-large bids for the state finals to join fellow small-group schools Bethel Park, Hampton, Shaler, Franklin Regional and South Fayette in the PIAA championships. Bethel Park finished first in the division.
While Pine-Richland couldn't match its second-place finish from last season, coach Corey Doyle said he is proud of his girls' fifth-place finish at the sixth annual event held at Hempfield High School this season, especially considering the challenges they had to overcome.
“They did well. We've been having a rough year with injuries. Even into this week, we had somebody that was out of town and a girl on Thursday that injured her ankle, so we had to change everything on Friday, the day before the event,” Doyle said.
“So, there's been a lot of changes that the girls had to make, and they did well under the circumstances. Our goal was to get a bid, and we did that. We just keep pushing through and even with everything that was thrown at the girls, they just keep going no matter what.”
Though the Rams possess a young roster, senior Lexi Stutz has provided experience along with juniors Makenzie Marburger, Sophia Clegg, Ally Czerski, Erica Haas and Holly Stewart.
Sophomores Abby Casario, Jacqueline Gill, Sammy Nudi, Emma Coleman, Kate Kwasnick, Morgan Gierl and freshmen Lucy Knoebick and Taylor McWhirter round out the roster.
Placings at WPIALs were scored based on each team's presentation that was required to include one cheer or sidelines chant and a musical portion under 1 minute, 30 seconds. The top 16 teams qualified for the PIAA championships, which will take place at 9 a.m on Jan. 19 at Giant Center in Hershey.
Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.