U.P. Competitive Cheer about more than winning

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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - The Marquette Senior High School gym was full of school spirit Saturday, Feb. 2, for the Marquette Competitive Cheerleading Invitational, but this year’s competitions are about more than just placement. Marquette is teaming up with Gladstone, Manistique, Munising, Iron Mountain and other middle and high schools across the Upper Peninsula to make this year’s competitive cheer competitions about U.P. pride.

“We really focus on supporting one another. When the other teams are on the mat, even if we compete against them, we are right on the side of the mat cheering them on, hoping they hit all of their stunts and perform to the best of their ability,” says Jessica Hemstock, Marquette Senior High School Cheer Head Coach.

That support was shown this weekend at the Marquette Competitive Cheerleading Invitational, an MHSAA event with three rounds showcasing each team’s best routines.

"The first round they demonstrate their skills, but they're limited to two jumps that must be done in unison - no stunting or gymnastics - and they're given 1:30 to show their expertise. The second round - they have required rounds - the first thing they do is a required 10 count in unison, and then they are allowed to pick five skills out of three categories, and they're worth different points as far as the level of difficulty that they are. And then the third round is really where they get to showcase their talents. It's a combination of their jumping, their gymnastics skills, their precision, but they also get to do stunting which the kids love. We evaluate how they do and as well as they do, and everything is also evaluated as far as the difficulty and variety of the things they elect to put on the floor," explains MHSAA Competitive Cheer Registered Official Phyllis Olszewski.

Marquette Varsity took first place with 538.10 points for Division Two, Gladstone Varsity came in first in Division Three with 605.40 points, Munising Varsity took first in Division Four with 710.48 points, and Munising Middle was first for the middle schoolers with 407.62 points.

Marquette also gave out a Sportsmanship Award to the team who showed the most support for other teams during the competition - that team, Gladstone.

“Our female athletes don't always get the notoriety and the prestige that comes with some of the more established sports, so seeing that these teams support each other - even when there might be a difficult series that's occurred, or maybe girls don't perform as well - that those kids are still supporting each other, sportsmanship in competitive cheer is like no other," Olszewski states.

If you’d like to learn more about competitive cheer or get involved, you can visit www.mhsaa.com.