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For The Madison Press

March 19, 2014

The West Jefferson High School competition cheerleading team captured the 2014 OASSA Division III Mount State Championship on Sunday, March 16 at Bowling Green State University (BGSU). The title is the second for the Roughriders in three years and fourth in the past seven years. A nearly flawless execution of a routine that involves crowd-lead cheers, tumbling, jumps, stunting, basket tosses, choreography and dance greatly impressed the judges and entertained the large crowd at the Stroh Center on the BGSU campus.

The championship was originally scheduled for Sunday, March 2, at The Ohio State University, and although the weather postponed the event for two weeks, neither the delay nor the change in venue could deter the ladies from accomplishing their goal set from the first day of practice. Division III was the largest division for mount teams at this year’s state championship and included talented cheer squads from six other high schools that earned the right to compete for the state title this year via regional qualifiers.

The talented Lady Roughriders preparation for the competition season begins during the summer months prior to the start of the school year. The team commits hundreds of hours of practice time and conditioning to prepare for performances and support at school athletic events, exhibitions and competitions that culminate with a chance to win a state championship.

Coaches Melissa Jester and Jenny Hockenbery devote countless number of hours to help prepare the cheerleaders, but both easily give enormous respect and high praise to all of the girls for their dedication and determination. The team also receives wonderful support from the school administration, student body, booster club and community, who are very proud of the girl’s success and accomplishments as student-athletes.

This year’s state title is a bit of redemption for the Roughriders. During last year’s state competition a seemingly harmless move during the pyramid portion of the routine resulted with the squad being disqualified from the competition. Though the score sheets showed that the Riders had easily earned enough points to be crowned with a second consecutive state title, it was still very difficult to accept the outcome.

This year’s cheerleading team partly dedicated the season to last year’s senior class, and wants to thank them, along with the 2012 senior class, for helping build the foundation of the continued success of the competition cheerleading program. This year’s team also dedicated the season to Kassie Harper, a senior cheerleader who continues to fight the biggest battle of all. Her courage and hope provides true inspiration.

With only two seniors graduating from this year’s competition squad, Logan Hoenie and Rachel Woodard, and a talented group of freshmen cheerleaders entering high school next year, the team is already enthusiastic about a return to the state competition next season.