They’re enthusiastic, loud, and making Amherst proud.
The Amherst Comets cheerleading squad hopes to keep its pride strong by tumbling to victory March 4 in state competition at Ohio State University.
The team won the Southwestern Conference title in November, marking its first time topping the SWC since 2005.
Now the Comets are furiously practicing, honing their two-minutes-and-30-second routine in hopes of wowing the judges and marking a brand new milestone.
“I feel like our whole school is starting to take us a lot more seriously because we won first place at SWC,” said cheerleader Hallie Gornall. “And we’re going on. We’re not stopping. We’re keeping on and making our reputation stronger.”
Coach Kaitlyn Bauer said the cheerleaders show up to practice ready to work, ready to learn, and ready to take critique.
High-intensity cardio, toe-touch drills, and sticking tumbles helped get their routine into tip-top shape, but it’s laughter and friendship that helps get their heads in the game mentally.
Cheerleader Kiersten Bowen said she owes her teammates for the stunts she’s learned this season. There is no competition between girls on the team and everyone is always helping each other get better, she said.
Before competitions, the group sits in a circle, hold hands, and imagine doing their routine perfectly. The ritual helps calm the cheerleaders down and show them “all the potential that we have,” Bowen said.
That one performance makes all the hours of practice worth it.
“It feels like the most exciting time of your entire life,” Gornall said. “Everyone’s supporting you and you’re showing them what you can do and how hard you worked for it. That’s what keeps me coming. I just love the thrill of performing for people.”
The Comets have not been to states since 2014. Avon and Midview high schools will be in their competition bracket.
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.