Fayette County

Competitive cheerleading championships draw passionate followers

Parents, coaches and cheerleaders packed the Alltech Arena for most of Saturday during the fifth annual Kentucky High School Athletic Association State Competitive Cheer Championships. Many from around the state had personal stories related to cheerleading.

Noah Mattox and Emma McKissack, both members of the Tates Creek High School team, said there are many components to cheerleading.

“You have to have very great muscular endurance, because there’s a lot of tossing girls in the air and a lot of like acrobatics, like flips and all that,” Mattox said.

“You also have to have a lot of confidence,” McKissack said.

Tates Creek competed against six other schools in the afternoon, including Bullitt Central, Casey County, Graves County, Owensboro, Spencer County and Taylor County. Tates Creek ultimately finished last in the Coed B division.

Mattox and McKissack said they were unhappy with their performance, noting that they had to learn a new routine in a short time because two members of the team had another cheerleading obligation.

Lisa Cain, a parent, was at the event because of her daughter, Mahalia. Mahalia, a sophomore, represented Williamsburg in the competition. She has been cheerleading since she was in the second grade, her mother said.

Lisa Cain said cheerleading is a commitment.

“It’s a year-round sport,” she said. “We don’t get many summer days off or do a lot of vacations and stuff.”

Cain said she does not mind going to numerous events throughout the year where her daughter cheers, such as football and basketball games.

“I love to watch it,” she said, adding that it takes a lot of time management.

Albert Patterson, also a parent, was at the event with his hifreshman daughter, Jasmine, who cheers for Spencer County High School in Taylorsville. Patterson has also been to cheerleading events in which his stepson competed.

“It’s not new to us,” he said.

Patterson commented on the increasing number of men participating in the competition in the past decade.

“You see more boys out doing it now — you know, men doing it now then you did back then,” he said.

Daniel Fleharty, who cheers for Morehead State University and helped out at Saturday’s event, has been cheerleading for three years. Fleharty said the constant flipping and throwing people is a rough workout.

“It’s hard,” he said. “The whole body just gets sore after every practice.”

Fleharty said he first got interested in cheerleading in high school while he was a football player. A girl invited him to a cheerleading practice and told him she would buy him food afterward.

“I just went in and there I fell in love with it,” he said. “It was awesome.”

Cheerleading winners

For all the results, see khsaa.org/2016-2017-khsaa-state-competitive-cheer-results/

All-Girls Large division: Paul Laurence Dunbar

All-Girls Medium division: Corbin

All-Girls Small division: Pikeville

All-Girls Super division: Bullitt East

Coed A division: Barren County

Coed B division: Graves County