Carroll cheerleaders earn first state title

Carroll High School’s cheerleading squad placed first in the Varsity Coed Division during state finals Nov. 3 at New Castle High School. The state title was the first in school history. CONTRIBUTED

DUPONT — Every year, the Chargers have climbed a little bit higher up the ladder. On Nov. 3, they finally broke through the ceiling.

Carroll’s varsity cheerleading squad made history, bringing home the school’s first-ever state title in the sport.

“We were extremely excited and overjoyed,” Carroll coach Kim Fransen said. “Finally, they’re state champions.”

The Chargers took first in the Varsity Coed Division with 265 out of a possible 280 points Nov. 3 at New Castle High School. During last year’s state competition, Carroll was the runner-up behind Carmel, scoring 264 points.

“There’s not very many sports where you get just one chance,” coach Elizabeth Sturges said. “They start the time and you have two minutes and 30 seconds to give everything you’ve got and there’s no second chances. It’s a one-and-done kind of sport, so you have to prepare a lot and try to go through every scenario of what could go wrong and make sure you’re preventing that.”

The Chargers qualified for state finals by winning the preliminary round with 265.8 points against 12 other teams. During the state finals, Carroll defeated seven other groups in its division.

“They start calling down from fifth place to first place, so when they called second place and they didn’t call our name, we knew we were in the top spot, so we were pretty excited,” Sturges said.

Not only did the team bring home the title, but the first-place finish at state capped an undefeated season for Carroll’s varsity squad, which Sturges pointed to as all the more reason for people to recognize cheerleaders as athletes as much as those in any other sport.

“Sometimes people confuse cheerleading as more of a club versus an athletic sport, and it just kind of depends on what school you’re in,” she said. “Our school really pushes for us to be athletes and puts us under the athletic department. This year we felt like we had a lot of kids that were very athletic and had a lot of stamina and we could push them to do harder things over and over again. The ability to practice until we couldn’t get it wrong is what set us apart.”

Fransen said this year’s routine was one of the hardest the staff has put together, due mostly to the amount of tumbling involved. The state routine also included an individual pyramid stunt by Audrey Lemley and Gavin Scheele, the team’s sole male cheerleader this year, which was one of the more difficult aspects, Fransen added.

“We had one little bobble, but overall it was very, very good,” she said.

The award-winning performance was the culmination of five months of work, Fransen said, including skill building, camps, practices and cheering at football games. Of course, it all paid off in the end.

“We’ve been coaching here for nine years, and we’ve been competing for six out of those nine years. It’s been a long journey. Every year, we’ve consistently gotten better and learned from our mistakes and been able to build on that and reuse that experience for the next group of kids,” Sturges said.