Seneca High School cheerleaders have successfully defended their title as state champions.
“Last year the feeling of getting second at regionals was motivation to come back and get first. We knew we had worked hard enough to get first. This year, we had to defend our title,” said Savannah Raney, a junior cheerleader.
“It was scary to think that we’d get something other than first. That was our motivation. The hard work we put into our practices was proof that we had what it took.
“Winning first place again was such a relieving feeling, it left us all in tears to know we were the best in the state once again. It’s an incredible feeling to know that every second of practice was worth it.”
According to Kristi Schlessman, Seneca head cheer coach, this is the fifth state title in school history for the cheerleaders. They previously won it all in 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2015.
The girls competed in the state tournament held at Hearnes Center on the campus of University of Missouri in Columbia on Sunday, Nov. 6.
“The girls were judged on the level of difficulty of their jumps, stunts, pyramids, tosses, and tumbling. On top of that they were judged again on how well they executed each category,” said Nicole Taylor, assistant cheer coach.
“That feeling when you’re standing on the blue mats. When you’re waiting for the music to turn on and when you’re waiting to perform your best. That feeling of not knowing. Not knowing if you will be successful. The feeling when you know that right now, in this moment, it’s all or nothing,” said Mariah Callaway, sophomore cheerleader.
“But nothing compares to the feeling you get when you’re huddled in a circle and you hear your team getting called for first… when you know that all the hard work, pain, and time you put in was all worth it.”
Seneca cheerleaders were also judged on their dance and cheer performance. There were separate categories they were judged on, such as synchronization, motion execution, transitions and cleanliness, safety, voice projection and overall excitement. The categories range from 5 to 10 points that they can achieve.
“Two of our girls were awarded All-State Cheerleader awards — seniors Rachel Wohlenhaus and Tess Hultman,” said Taylor.
According to Schlessman, her squad does not plan on attending anymore competitions this year but looks forward to next year.
“Bringing home our second consecutive state title was unreal, and we couldn’t have done it without the crazy amount of energy and drive the girls put on that mat. Being chosen as an All-State cheerleader was such an honor and a surprise,” said Hultman, a senior and captain of the cheerleading squad.
“In our division, 2A Large, there were six schools we were competing against,” said Taylor.
Bolton Catholic, Lathrop, Cleve, Herculaneum, and Christian High School were in the same division as Seneca.
“The feeling of winning another title is absolutely indescribable, but for me the best thing about winning is hearing people cheering for your win and knowing that they are really happy for you and knowing that the hard work paid off. To me that is the most rewarding thing of all,” said Bria Bridges, senior.
Members of the Seneca High School cheerleading squad include: seniors Tess Hultman, Rachel Wohlenhaus, Kayleigh Hancock, Kaylee Eads, Piper Orcutt, Caitlynn Wood, and Bria Bridges; juniors Adron Durman, Savannah Raney, Montana Clark, Allison Grady, and Courtney Clark; sophomores Kaylin Skaggs, Grace Lankford, Kylie Plummer, and Mariah Callaway; and freshmen Olivia Moser, Jessica Gorham, Audrey Wood, and Cassidy Collette.
Taylor Edwards and Kerry Reeves are also coaches, along with Schlessman and Taylor.