By Travis Mounts
So far, the Cheney Cardinals are the only team to ever win the 3A State championship at the Game Day Spirit Showcase Competition.
Granted, the competition – sponsored by the Kansas State High School Activities Association – is only two years old.
But it still is a big accomplishment, one that the CHS cheerleaders and coaches are excited about.
“We won back-to-back. It feels great. It still hasn’t sunk in that we won for a second time,” said Ashley Oliver, who coaches the Cardinals with Molly Amsink. Oliver coaches during football, and Amsink handles basketball. They share duties for the State championship and during summer camps.
The competition has grown. In 2017, the Cardinals beat out about a dozen teams. This year, there were 17 teams in the 3A field.
It is the only competition the cheerleaders attend during the season.
During the preliminary round, each team must perform a fight song, a band chant and a “crowd leading” cheer. During the finals, teams are told to perform a sideline chant – either an offensive cheer or a defensive cheer – right before they started, so team members had to be ready for both.
The fight song cheer requires some additional movements and transitions than what is normally performed.
“We definitely have to fluff it up a little bit,” Oliver said.
The Cardinals got some help from the Cheney High marching band, which was critical to the cheerleaders’ success.
“They sounded great,” Oliver said.
First, the band recorded the fight song, but they had to cut it down to one minute. Also, the cheerleaders needed a fight chant.
“The band bought the sheet music and recorded it how we wanted it,” Oliver said.
The Cardinals went into this year’s finals in third place after the preliminary round. The top six teams advanced to finals. The final standings were based solely on each team’s performance in the final round. In 2017 – just like this year – the Cardinals were not in first place going into the final round, but won the championship with their final-round performance.
After the preliminary round, the top six teams were, in order: Holton, Marysville, Cheney, Thomas More Prep-Marian, Sabetha and Silver Lake.
The final rankings were: Cheney, Holton, Silver Lake, Marysville, Sabetha and TMP-Marian.