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Cheerleaders make it to State for second straight year


Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire

The Wrangell Wolves Cheer Squad performs during the Region V tournament in Juneau in early March. The Wolves will attend the State Cheerleader meet for the second straight year in Anchorage this year, after taking second place during this competition.

Two might just be the magic number for the Wrangell High School Cheer squad.

The cheerleaders will head to the State competition in Anchorage this week for the second year in a row after having come in second place, also for the second time. After holding a

community bake sale over the weekend to raise funds for traveling, the team left on an Anchorage-bound jet Monday with a performance slated for Tuesday evening.

While basketball teams get 32

minutes of regulation (plus overtime) to craft a make-or-break tournament performance, the cheerleaders must make the best possible impression in mere minutes, said head coach Stephanie Cartwright.

"They will perform their two-minute thirty-second routine," she said.

A panel of judges will evaluate them on their performances in various categories and give them a composite score, Cartwright said.

"There's about 36 teams that go through," she said. "There's four to six judges. One judge looks at the floor plan, and the other judges you off your stunt tumbling and your dance performance."

While most locals will be familiar with the cheerleading squad as the group with the best seats in the house for a Friday- or Saturday-night basketball game, the state cheerleading

competition is in no way connected to the State basketball tournament, Cartwright said.

"It is completely separate, opposite side of Anchorage, different school," she said.

The State-level appearance brings with it elevated competition and, in the case of the Wrangell squad, some last-minute adjustments, Cartwright said.

"Right now they're having their hour-long practice right after school," she said. "They're having to re-do their whole routine because they lost a person. But they're learning lots of new stunts that they (the team) haven't been able to do since '03."

The Wolves are also down a key performer and are having to learn new routines to make up the difference, Cartwright said.

Schools in the competition are separated into divisions based around the number of cheerleaders on the team, and how many of them are boys. The Wolves will compete in the small division, for teams of between one and 12 cheerleaders with up to one boy. Other divisions include the Large Division, for schools with squads of between 13 and 24 performers, the Coed Division, for schools with two or more boys, the Non-Building Division, and the Competitive Division.

Among the Region V schools, Wrangell, Sitka, Juneau and Metlakatla were the only teams to qualify for the competition.


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