Congratulations to the 2019-20 Cheerleading Squad for getting the chance to compete at the national level, recently, while representing Wayne County Schools in a positive manner at the competition.
The 19-member squad competed in the UCA National High School Cheerleading Championships finishing 11th in their division on Saturday, February 8th. They were amongst 15 teams in the Large Co-ed Non-Tumbling division at the ESPN World Wide of Sports facility at Walt Disney World. The event will be televised at a yet to be announced broadcast on ESPN2.
This was the first ever bid for a local cheer squad to get the chance to move on to nationals. They were thrilled to have the chance and found out they had earned a score high enough to make the cut, in December at the Smokey Mountain Championship in Gatlinburg, TN.
The team members include: Hannah Griffin, Monce Bravo, Destiny Philpot, Selena Melton, Hailey Gregory, Zoe Stockton, Amber Clark, Alexis Sloan, Maggie Jackson, Hannah G. Sexton, Aileen Dominguez, Stephanie Massengale, Neveah Anderson, Jayden Crabtree, Haley Stockton, Katie Neal, Kenia Velazquez, Dylan Godsey, Justin Curry and are sponsored by Head Coach Mary Beth Stockton.
They held fundraisers and the Monticello Police Department even hosted a chili lunch fundraiser/auction at the Aspire Center on January 15 to help with the costs prior to the trip. They rode on a school bus straight through to Orlando, Florida, with their first stop at a beach, close to Disney World. It was the first time some of the cheerleaders had seen the ocean, so it was exciting for the teenagers. On Thursday, their schedules took them to Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the Magic Kingdom famed amusement park. On Friday, they visited Disney's Hollywood Studios and followed that up by pulling out mats and squeezing in a practice in the hotel parking lot. On Saturday morning, they were ready to go and on the stage at 8:08 a.m.
“When we got to the competition, they were amazed at the set up. There were 34 different states represented with 20,000 athletes. There were tons and tons of people watching, but they were not nervous,” said Cheerleading Coach Mary Beth Stockton. Stockton has served as the cheerleading coach for three years and was a cheerleader while in school. She cheered for six years leading up to her graduation from high school in 1999. She has two daughters currently participating on the squad - Zoe is a sophomore and Haley is an eighth grader.
After the competition, they finished the afternoon at Epcot Center. One of the Dad’s grilled hamburgers by the pool on Saturday night before they made the trek back home on Sunday.
They performed their specially choreographed routine at a some of the local basketball games this winter that fans may have gotten to see, with some difficult stunts included in the performance. They have competed twice in the fall, with one appearance at Paul Lawrence Dunbar in Region 6 Sectionals where they placed 4th in Coed Division. During the last school year, the lines were redrawn and Wayne County began competing at region with schools from Berea, Richmond, and Lexington, strengthening the level of competition for the local team, rather than the 12th Region that they had participated in for many years. They participated in a UCA Stunt Clinic last May to prepare for the school year, as well as hosting a successful camp for youth league football cheerleaders last summer.
So, when they got the nod at Gatlinburg to move up to nationals, the squad members were particularly excited about the opportunity after all of their hard work.
Most of the local team members started out cheering at the middle school level. Many of them will cheer for a couple of years at middle school and then follow that up during their high school years.
“They have the longest running season of any of the school athletes,” according to Head Coach Mary Beth Stockton. “They are so dedicated. They only get off for six weeks after cheering at girls and boys basketball games in the winter.”
They spend over 200 hours practicing during their season that spans April through March. They cover close to 40 football/basketball games per season. Plus they usually enter three to four competitions each year.
They also offer support at pep rallies, camps, and special events. Tryouts are held each year after spring break, according to Stockton, with the cheer cycle starting all over again.
Wayne County Varsity Cheer Squad performing at NHSCC
Wayne County Cheerleaders outside Disney's Animal Kingdom
Cheer Squad posed in front of the Disney Castle at the theme park
Cheerleaders in front of ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
(Front Row L-R:) Amber Clark, Aileen Dominguez, Kenia Valenquez, Stephanie Massengale, Haley Stockton
(Second Row L-R:) Maggie Jackson, Neveah Anderson, Alexis Sloan, Monce Bravo, Zoe Stockton, Selena Melton
(Back Row L-R:) Hannah Sexton, Jaedyn Crabtree, Destiny Philpot, Hannah Griffin, Coach Mary Beth Stockton, Dylan Godsey, Justin Curry, Hailey Gregory, and Katie Neal