BHS cheerleaders break record at national competition

Lilly Guenther, Copy Editor

From February 8-13, the Bellefonte High School cheerleaders traveled to Orlando, Florida to compete in the Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) National competition. This is the first time that the team has been sponsored to attend this competition since 2020, and the group put in a lot of work, both in and out of practice, to get there. 

“As a team we worked so hard at practice and did lots of fundraising to get to Nationals, and it was totally worth it,” senior Lauren Benner said. 

There was, of course, a lot of physical effort put in as well. Lauren mentions the rigorous schedule throughout the weeks leading up to Nationals. 

“We practiced often and went through the routine doing all of the stunts and tumbling, that’s called a full out. The week leading up to a competition we did multiple full outs to the best of our ability, for 3 hours of practice,” she said. 

The cheerleading team had a successful season on many accounts leading up to this. The competitive team placed first in the district competition and ninth in states. Prior to attending nationals, the gameday team placed third in the regional competition. 

Senior Emma Matsko is the main base and captain of the squad this year. She comments on the success that each team has had. 

“Our competition team made it to the State Championships in Hershey and our Game Day Team qualified and competed at Nationals in Orlando, Florida,” she said. 

With success comes challenges, along with the expectation of improvement. Senior Natalie Mattern notes that, even with the previous success of the team, one big objective was putting all of the people and parts involved in the show together. 

The biggest challenge we have faced as a team was getting over injuries and working together to make sure everything fits correctly,” she said. 

Coach Skip Headings explained more about the way in which all the parts of the routine must be fit together. 

“The biggest challenge is to make the best teams and fit all the parts of cheerleading together – the tumbling, stunting and dances all have to be out together so they all make the best team,” he said. 

The team competed in Nationals at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and made it to the semi-finals, placing eighteenth within their region. 

“High School Nationals was a great experience for the team, and being there and going against the best of the best from 35 states was amazing. Our team scored their highest score and got 18th in our division in the Nation which was awesome,” Coach Headings said. 

The team scored higher than any BHS team has scored, and is the first team from Pennsylvania to score this well in a national competition. Senior Loralie Bercel thinks that the team all put in their maximum effort to attain this. 

“As a team, we scored the highest in Bellefonte cheer history, we really left it all out on the mat,” she said. 

Lauren talks about the experience of performing at such a high level on a national stage, bigger than any the team is usually on. 

“As a team, we did super well. We performed the best we have ever done. Competing in Florida at the ESPN World Wide of Sports Center is an amazing experience. It feels great to cheer in this massive arena, with the spotlight on you,” she said. 

Natalie thinks that the team’s hard work and dedication throughout the season paid off, regarding both the competition itself and the teamwork involved. 

“We all worked really hard to get there and we all worked so great as a team,” she said. 

Aside from the competition, the team also had time to celebrate and bond, visiting many of Orlando’s attractions. This included Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney Springs, as well as Hollywood studios. 

“I am proud of our team and the trip brought us all closer and was a good way to end the off season,” Emma said. 

From competing to spending time with teammates, the experience is not something that anyone on the team will soon forget.

“Going to Florida with my cheer team was amazing. I had the time of my life. I’ll cherish all the memories made. I’m so thankful to be given the opportunity to represent my school district at a National competition with my best friends by my side and the best coaches, family, and community cheering us on,” Lauren said.