Lockport Varsity Cheerleaders Fall Short At State

Written by Bradley Zimmerman, Staff Writer

At any football and basketball game, home or away, you will find Lockport’s cheerleaders on the sidelines, cheering the team on and getting the crowd excited. Like the sporting events they cheer at, cheerleading itself is a competitive sport. The Freshman and JV cheerleading teams wrapped up their seasons in victory as state champions and the Varsity team hoped to do the same. They came painfully close to winning it last year, but were runners up to Lincoln-Way East by a margin of only thirteen-one hundredths of a point.

This year, the Lockport Varsity Cheerleaders entered the season with the goal of winning state and redeeming their slim 2nd place finish, but they failed in every competition this year to capture first. That all changed on Saturday, January 30 at Joliet West, one of five IHSA Sectional competitions. Fresh off a third place finish at the SWSC championship, the cheerleaders needed to make the top 5 to advance to the state competition. They performed their three-minute routine in front of a massive sea of maroon and white that, according to Seniors Melissa Meeder and Kylie Reed, was the largest fan section there.

Later, the results were announced and, in 1st place with a score of 93.20 was the LPVC. They beat Joliet-West by 1.07 points and had the highest score of any sectional team.

“Last year’s close finish impacted our attitudes towards this season by making us want to work harder,” Meeder explained. “This year started off rough, but we were getting better. We performed well at Sectionals, but we could’ve done way better. There’s room for improvement and we were facing the best teams in the state. It was nice to win against them.”

Reed also spoke of the competition. “We never wanted to lose again by such a close margin. We’re usually a good team; we generally do well in the competitions. It was a complete surprise to us that we got first at Sectionals; we were not expecting that. Before they announced us as the winners, we were in shock that we didn’t get called yet, and afterwards we were all super happy and excited.”

The cheerleaders, along with 24 other teams, then went to the state finals on Feb 5th and 6th in Bloomington, along with their families, friends, and other students. On Friday, the LPVC needed to make the top 10 to advance; they placed 3rd. Unfortunately, they did not fare well on Saturday, Day 2, making several costly mistakes that left them in 9th place. They admitted that the performance was not their best performance. Joliet West, who had trailed Lockport all season and were runners up to them in the Sectional, took home the championship.

With the unfortunate and sad ending to the competitive cheerleading season for Lockport, they enter a long offseason during which they will have to say goodbye to eight seniors, including Meeder and Reed. However, they welcomed several new additions to the team specifically for state and who will be on the team next year and will welcome more new additions next year as they aim for double redemption to avenge their slim 2nd place finish in 2015 and their 9th place performance in 2016.