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Huntley hosts annual Sweetheart Challenge Competition

JV forms their pyramid. (S. Biernat)
JV forms their pyramid. (S. Biernat)

Entering the high school, the bright lights and booming music made up for the dull, gloomy skies. The world of cheer had engulfed all the attendees and optimism filled the atmosphere of the East Gym.

Sunday, Jan. 22, Northern Illinois cheer teams gathered in the gym for the annual Huntley-based competition, Sweetheart Challenge. Beginning at the early hour of 8:20, freshmen and middle school teams performed. The competition showcased the talent of teams from middle school to varsity level.

After a mix of small and large JV teams went on, the Northeastern suburb of Round Lake shined at 9:44. The hard work and dedication placed the team in the top ten of the small JV division.

With this being Round Lake’s first appearance at the challenge, they were screaming with joy from their placement.

“We get up at five during the week to practice before school,” sophomore JV cheerleader Mariana Galvez said. “We started preparing for this right after our last competition.”

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By the time Huntley’s JV girl went on, there was steep competition. Minutes before them, Grayslake North killed their routine with little to no faults and clean stunts. Their outstanding performance actually granted them second in the category they shared with Huntley, Large JV.

Two hours in, time was delayed. Within the last few seconds of Crystal Lake South’s routine, one of their flyers crashed to the floor. It is not clear who she was or how badly she was injured, but she was screaming and was carried off the mats. She either broke or sprained her ankle.

Following the injury, The Huntley Cheer Association had their seventh and eighth graders do an Exhibition routine. They had the crowd pumped more than any of the schools, and they did exceptionally well.

Post HCA, the award ceremony commenced. The middle schoolers placed third, and in the freshmen division, Huntley placed second, one behind Grayslake North.

With such clean cut stunts but a few falls, junior Daisy Sosa was not too confident in JV’s success.

“We have done better the last two [competitions],” Sosa said. “I think we did okay, but I’m not sure.”

Unfortunately, those few slip ups from breaking form in their pyramid and not landing a back tuck or two had the girls not place.

In the end, Huntley took home one award and JV will know what improvements are needed to be made for next year. Exiting the high school, the energy carried into the gray skies of the winter weather, and everyone had a good time.

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