Sweat beads down the faces of the cheerleaders from schools all across Illinois. They listen to the custom cheerleading tunes that play over the speakers that include fast-paced bass beats, bells, whistles and laser sounds added on to a wide variety of songs, all the way from Matchbox 20’s “How Far We’ve Come” to Adele’s new hit, “Hello.” While the music fills their ears, they perform tumbling moves like flip flops, layouts, and specialty passes, which to some who are unaware looks like a series of simple flips and somersaults, but, in actuality, they are thought-out, technical, and incredibly difficult to pull off for the average person, requiring a fair amount of athleticism. When the speakers are not playing, the athletes simply do what they are known to do: Cheer. They have to cheer loud. Loud enough for everyone in the entire gymnasium to hear, and loud enough to cause a sore throat for themselves. Not only that, they cheer while performing stunts and balancing themselves on top of each other. On occasion, this balance falters and they fall onto the sleek, but when this does not occur, the audience and fellow cheerleaders become suitably dazzled and they applaud the particularly impressive stunts with glee. If there is one thing the crowd knows when watching the cheerleaders’ performances, it is that being a cheerleader is no small task.
Huntley’s junior varsity cheerleading team placed second in the Large JV Division at the HHS Sweetheart Invitational Cheerleading Competition on Sunday. The team that took first belonged to Glenbard North, who scored 80.1 points, narrowly beating Huntley by only 0.45 points. While they did not get first, Huntley’s team scored higher than a multitude of other teams and displayed a solid performance with little to no errors.
“I think we definitely had the potential to place first because we won conference last week, but I know that my team did their best and left everything on the floor and that’s all that really matters,” said junior Annie Silkaitis.
Unfortunately, Huntley’s freshman team also did not get first, as they got a third place finish. The judges collectively scored two other schools higher. Those schools were Carl Sandburg and Grayslake North, who got first and second, respectively.
Huntley’s varsity cheer team did not perform at the Sweetheart Invitational. However, a huge amount of other schools came to compete.
In the Small JV Division, Grayslake Central placed first with 82.3 points, while Grayslake North wound up at second with 80.23 points.
There were four different varsity divisions that competed against each other: Small Varsity, Medium Varsity, Large Varsity, and Coed Varsity. Somonauk placed first in the Small Varsity Division while first place in the Medium Varsity Division went to Grayslake Central. Carl Sandburg got first place for the second time of the day, this time in the Large Varsity Division with an impressive score of 93.73. Second place went to Joliet West who had a score of 91.6. The top three schools in the Coed Varsity Division all had very close scores. Third place went to York with 88.55 points, second place went to Buffalo Grove with a score of 89.68, and Conant got first place with 90.1 points.
Some of the cheerleaders have interesting ways to prepare to make sure they perform well at the competition.
“I go to bed early, and then when I wake up, I go to Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee, and then have my hair teased,” said Silkaitis.
This was the last competition of the season for Huntley’s freshman and junior varsity teams. While it was not the perfect way to end the season, it was still a respectable showing. All that is left for the varsity team is the IHSA Sectional on Jan. 30 and the IHSA State Finals in February.