Maddie Carter and Nakaiya Mayberry had the best seats in the house for many of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s biggest athletic events during their high school careers. They were standing most of the time.
Carter and Mayberry, both senior cheerleaders, signed with high-profile schools Thursday afternoon. Carter is headed to Indiana University and Mayberry is sticking closer to home at Eastern Kentucky University.
IU boasts one of the top female-only programs in the nation. The Hoosiers have won the Universal Cheerleaders Association’s last two Division 1A All-Girl national championships; they’ve finished at least second in that competition every year since 2011.
“Both of my parents did cheer at IU,” said Carter, who’s been on the varsity squad for three seasons and part of two state championship teams. “They were both actually members of the co-ed squad, which is still at IU but unfortunately I’m at bit too tall to be on the co-ed squad.”
Coach Donna Martin said Mayberry had a difficult time pulling off a back handspring as a freshman. She’s since blossomed into a strong tumbler for Dunbar, which was this year’s International Federation of Cheerleading world champion.
“I was so bad,” Mayberry said with a laugh. “I made Dunbar’s team with no tumbling. I had like a roundoff, that was it. One day I came into practice and I was late and they were like, ‘You’ve gotta do it.’ So I did it and by the next month I had a tuck, so I’ve just been flipping ever since then.”
Alex Jones, a senior at Dunbar who did not cheer for the varsity squad, signed to cheer for the University of Kentucky on Thursday as well.
▪ Former Henry Clay star Walker Buehler set a minor-league career high with nine strikeouts in just 3 2/3 innings versus the Springfield Cardinals on Wednesday. Buehler, who’s currently with the Double-A Tulsa Drillers, is considered the No. 5 prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.
Buehler also picked up his first professional hit in Wednesday’s game. He hit a line drive to right field in his first at-bat of any kind since 2012, when he was a senior at Henry Clay.
▪ Henry Clay volleyball junior Sierra Gray committed to James Madison University recently. Gray was a starter on the Blue Devils squad that reached the state finals in November.
▪ Queenie Livingston, a Bryan Station track-and-field athlete, signed with Prairie View A&M on Wednesday.