Something to cheer about, Redhawks win first state cheer title

Members of the Marist cheerleading team celebrate with the program's first-ever state championship trophy on Saturday. The Redhawk squad won the Large School Division title at this year's IHSA Competitive Cheer State Final after two days of competition against 25 team in Bloomington. See more photos from Saturday's competition below.

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

BLOOMINGTON - Sitting in a circle with their heads down with eight other teams around them, the Marist cheerleaders had their heads down, gripping their teammates' hands nervously while waiting for the announcement of this year's Large School Divison state champion at the IHSA Competitive Cheerleading State Finals on Saturday. When their name rang out over the P.A. system at Grossinger Motor Arena, they shrieked in unison and preceded to celebrate with unabashed joy.

"We were bridesmaids but never the bride, but today we got to be the bride," Redhawks head coach Jordan Miller said after the awards ceremony. "Our team has worked so hard. They really focused on themselves, their goals, and our values we have as a team. It really showed today on the mat, and fortunately, we got a win."

It was a historic moment for the program that has qualified for state every year from the get-go. Since 2005, Marist has finished second four times (2013, 2018, 2019, 2022) and third once in 2012. Saturday's state title was the first in school history.

Jordan said the key to his team's success was the fact that the girls on the team love each other.

"They put each other first," he explained. "They really focused on our team values rather than just the skills alone."

Marist finished the first day of competition in third place after receiving a score of 93.52 from the judges. Ahead of them, Lockport Township (96.64) and Edwardsville (94.72 ) gave nearly flawless performances to take the top two spots. Also advancing to the championship round were Sandburg (93.44), Andrews (90.72), Schaumburg (90.48), and Lincoln-Way East (90.23). Huntley earned an 89.24, Maine South 88.25, and Lincoln-Way Central 88.13 to round out the top ten, advancing to Saturday's finals.

Running the last routine of the day in the division, the team saw solid team performances from Edwardsville, who finished second, and Lockport, who came in third place. The squad's performance, to their surprise, earned the division's top mark of 96.32, surpassing the Tigers' 95.90 and the Porters' 94.99.

Marist's seniors played an important role this season.

"The senior class is really special to me. They are great athletes, but even better, they are just human beings," he said. "The rest of the team has some big shoes to fill, but I know we'll make them proud in the future."

This season's state championship squad includes Jaclyn Fitzmaurice, Jenna McAdams, Katelin Carney, Kaliyah House, Emerson McGuire, Sarah Tadevich, Gianna Marciano, Carrington Anderson, Emma Summers, Anna Connor, Mya Marciano, Julia Lorenz, June Giblin-Segal, Breanna Doherty, Kelsey Weber, Abigail Osborne, Molly Ryan, Brianna Kirchner, Madelyn Gutrich, Autumn Veal, Bridget Panerese, Mia Vincent, Mia Dusynski, Kaelyn and Howell. Miller's assistant coaches includes Tiara Patterson, Mary Mckenna and Beth Piper.

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