Another big trophy for Lemont; Cheerleading squad wins IHSA championship

BLOOMINGTON - On Saturday, Lemont won its seventh high school state competitive cheer championship title, adding yet another chapter to their dynasty in the sport. As the undisputed leader in the sport in the Medium School Division, the program has won 15 state trophies in 19 state final appearances.

A Lemont cheerleader performs at the state cheer championships on Saturday. See more photos below.
Photo: PhotoNews Media

"This title means everything. This team has come so far this season. They had their ups and downs," said fifth-year head coach Bree Grady-Simpson with an abundance of pride and respect for her athletes. "They committed and trusted each other. To come out on top just means the world to our program and our community."

Grady-Simpson has led the storied program for the past 11 years. Under her management as head coach, the program finished as runner-up in 2021 and last year. Saturday's dominance on the mat would not have happened without seniors Avery Taylor and Fawne Ford.

"We have two seniors who stepped into big shoes for us last season," Grady-Simpson said. "They held down the fort. They trusted me as a coach. They trusted my coaching staff and committed to everything we wanted to be. Their leadership was, both on and off the mat, for the rest of the athletes on our team was incredible this season."

The 20-member squad includes Emma Fedorovich, Hailey Borner, Morgan Sadelski, Jordan Cryer, Allyson Fluder, Ella Phelan, Ella Mierzwa, Kelsey Schmidt, Fawne Ford, Victoria Swanstrom, Grace Markun, Ashley Wrublik, Avaree Taylor, Molly Wallace, Melanie Wallace, Claire Auw, Samantha DuVall, Mia Fedoroich, Natalie Oprondek, and Tessa Preuss. Claudia DeSantis, Keri Storako, and Candice Kehr assisted Grady-Simpson.

Lemont won the sectional title, beating Evergreen Park by nearly three points. Providence Catholic ended up 3rd, and Oak Forest 4th at sectionals.

A week later, in the preliminary round at Grossinger Motor Arena, the cheer squad finished the first day with a near-perfect score of 96.78. Chasing them on the leaderboard were Burlington Central with a 94.42, Antioch in third at 94.30, Grayslake Central earned a 93.64 in fourth place, and Crystal Lake Central, with a 93.04, rounded out the division's top five.

The next day, Lemont nearly lit the mat on fire with their high-energy and explosive routine. The fourth contestant to perform on Saturday, the squad executed every stunt with confidence and precision. The team earned a 97.94 to outdistance runner-up Burlington Central (95.16) and Crystal Lake Central (93.42), who vaulted from fifth in the prelim to third.

Coming fourth place was Antioch (93.30), followed by Grayslake Central (92.50) in fifth, and Morris finished in sixth place with a 92.06. Also finishing in the top ten was Lakes (90.42) in seventh place and Normal U-High (89.92), who edged out Cary-Grove (89.56) in eighth place. Benet Academy (88.58) finished tenth.

Along with Lemont, only four other schools have advanced to the IHSA Competitive Cheerleading State Finals since the sport's adoption by the IHSA in 2006. Conant, Lockport, Oak Forest, and Sandburg have not missed a season, making the trek to the state final held in Bloomington. One bit of trivia: Lemont is the only cheerleading program to have finished in the top ten each year since 2006.

"Right now, we will enjoy this moment," Grady-Simpson said. "Moving forward, we will keep fighting, we will keep pushing, we keep raising the bar for our own program and the entire state of Illinois."

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