The Daily Item
ORLANDO, Fla. — The Milton Area High School competitive cheerleading squad survived Saturday’s preliminary-round cut of 23 teams and earned a berth in today’s National High School Cheerleading Championship semifinals.
Milton performed its 2½-minute routine before a crowd of 5,000 at Walt Disney World, earned 71 points and is among 16 squads that advanced to today’s second round. The finals follow later today. Ten of Traci Ferguson’s 2014 cheerleaders were on a Milton squad that last year finished fifth in the national tournament.
“If we go back (Saturday night) and make corrections, we have a strong chance of making it into the finals,” Ferguson said.
Despite her team’s experience in the national competition, “There were a lot of nerves (Saturday),” Ferguson said. “Our two freshmen flyers (Breianne Kreisler and Kaylee Boyer) were more nervous than the rest of the team.”
A flyer is the squad member who perches atop her teammates’ hands, often on one leg.
Kreisler was called into action Jan. 24 after sophomore Shelsie Argudo severely sprained her ankle nine hours before Milton’s appearance in the state championships in Hershey. Argudo remains sidelined.
“Our veterans did very well,” Ferguson said. “They really shined today, really stepped up and held it together and pulled it all back together again after a couple of bobbles.”
One of her freshman flyers did not complete a stunt, Ferguson said.
“Nerves came into play,” Ferguson said. “She did not go up in the air. That was right at the beginning, but she pulled it back together for the rest of routine. The veterans kept her in check and got her right back.”
Before today’s semifinals, Milton needs to hone its skills in arm placement during routines, Ferguson said, and “techniques as far as when they jump and timing issues.”
Senior Chloe Abell says she believes Milton will fare well in the semifinals.
“I think we have a good chance to make it to the finals,” she said. “We kept up the energy today. We maxed out in all the parts we normally do well in, which is the cheer section and the dance. Our stunting was a little off today on some things, but it depends on the day with that kind of stuff.”
Her team’s mind set is that it is going to go all the way to the finals, Ferguson said.
“When you have 39 teams pared down to 16 (on Saturday), it is very nerve-racking for them. It is also a confidence-booster when your name is read (as a semifinalist). There were a lot of tears, an explosion of nerves and tension.”
Before today’s semifinals, Ferguson said she will tell her team to “Have attitude and go for it, leave it all out there on the floor. I want them to be tired and exhausted.”