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Cheerleaders vie in IHSA state finals

Sandburg takes 4th; Providence wins top trophy

By Jeff Vorva

Some of the best cheerleaders in the area were not cheering on their basketball teams on Friday or Saturday.

Instead, they were the athletes being cheered on.

Three of the top four teams in the large school division in the Illinois High School Association Competitive Cheerleading state finals at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington had area ties.

Providence Catholic, which features a host of athletes from Orland Park, won the event for the first time with a 93.72, edging out Marist, which finished with a 93.02.

Sandburg, the defending large school champion, finished fourth with a 92.54 in a tightly-packed field.

Stagg, which made its first trip to the state meet for the first time since 2007, didn't make it to the championship round on Saturday but had its best showing in school history with a 14thplace finish.

Providence figured to have a deduction from its score due to a tumbling violation. But they jumped for joy and surprise when they were announced as the winner.

"They were surprised, but I prepared them for anything," Celtics coach Laura Duesing said. "I prepared them for either way. We didn't do all that well in preliminaries on Friday but we weren't nervous on Saturday. We knew we had to just go out and do what we had to do and I'm just so happy they were able to do that."

Members of the Celtics squad include Bailey Sineni, Lauren Murphy, Roslyn Parayo, Taylor Vennetti, Allysa Meurer, Courtney McEnery, Alyssa Gialamas, Meghan Marth, Morgan Duesing, Brianna Chibe, Gabriella Senese and Skyler Evans.

Also on the roster are Brittany Charnot, Brittany Charnot, Tori Vennetti, Allison Bebar, Maryssa Presbitero, Dana Joseph, Carson Sineni, Sera Cummings, Nicole Glynn, Bridget Fudala, Shannon Gilboy, Jonelle Karpen and Alexis Klotz.

Marist has qualified for the state meet in all eight years of the meet's existence and finally brought home its first trophy after finishing in third place last year.

The Redhawks were No. 1 after the preliminary round but were edged out in the finals by the Celtics and still came up with its best finish in school history.

Members of the Redhawks roster include Brenna O'Connor, Paige Ziemba, Kaila Case, Rachel Morris, Kara Case, Megan Doah, Michaela Ryan, Emma Flosi, Anne Marie Zielinski, Kristen Gaynor, Rachel Davidson, Katie McGrath and Ashley Duffin.

Also on the roster are Valerie Minnick, Emily Erickson, Alaina Bergamini, Caitlyn Cummings, Marykate Davidson, Laura Murphy, Lexi Lewkowicz, Beth Finn and Meghan Malloy.

Sandburg, which won a national competition in Dallas in January, has been to the state meet all eight years and enjoyed a top-10 finish all eight seasons.

Members of the Eagles roster include Courtney Conway, Taylor Crump, Natalie Noonan, Samantha Milwit, Sammie Frank, Nicole Chiappetti, Carley Popowski, Ellie Machala, Mary Carol Barkowski, Emily Barkowski, Haley Tarr, Megan Matre, Grace Call and Epiphany Cano.

Other members are Meghan Cescato, Peyten Cronin, Gabby Papierski, Hollie Mulcahy, Natalie Alfono, Meaghan Ryan, Ashley Offerman, Kathleen Schofield, Katie Cardinal, Lauren Hetzler and Isabella Berardelli.

Stagg coach Bridget Guzior, a former cheerleader at Sandburg, said she hopes the appearance in the preliminaries will lead to more success down the line.

Members of the Chargers team include Attia Huizinga, Kimberly Williams Brittany Fane, Danielle Klimas, McKenzie Busch, Kayla Haas, Madison Busch, Gabia Zemetis and Melina Sapokaite.

Other members are Heather Watson, Morgan Minik, Delaney Harty, Tiara Patterson, Marissa Campbell, Vanessa Minik, Maggie Hynes, Paige Pierson, Brittany Klimas, Alexa Kruszynski and Tyler Powell.