Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

By Dave Faries

Kimball Cheer Team Takes Third And Fourth At State Competition


Dave Faries

Madie Snyder executes a jump.

For much of the year, cheerleaders rely upon seven or eight standard rallying cries and a few halftime routines. Charitable home crowds follow along with enthusiasm, forgiving the little mistakes performers make almost every game.

The Nebraska state cheerleading competition is different—very different.

Eight professional judges study every movement, delivery and beat, eager to knock off points. Girls from other competing schools watch with rival skepticism. Anxious coaches note each misstep.

“You’re in the spotlight,” said Kimball senior Taylor Wismer. “Everybody is looking at you.”

The Longhorns emerged from the fray at Grand Island’s Heartland Event Center on Saturday with a third place finish in the Non-Tumbling performance category and fourth for their Sideline routine.

“It was nerve wracking,” admitted Sara Valle after the squad’s second performance, the sideline cheer.

After their two minute Non-Tumbling segment, coaches Tiffani Dea and Michelle Withrow huddled the girls to discuss improvements. In state competition, every thrust of an arm, every jump, every shout must be crisp and perfectly timed. If a cheerleaders raises both arms in the familiar celebratory gesture and her pose veers from the required 45 degree angle, judges will dock points.

The intangibles—choice of music, perceived degree of difficulty to the choreography—also affect the outcome.

“With judges, you never know,” said Dea. “We just have to play to our strengths.”

The atmosphere also invites tension. Everything from pictures to warm up periods to the team’s arrival on the floor is timed with precision. Allow a routine to run even one second beyond limits costs overall points.

Yet to Kimball’s cheerleaders, there is no better place than the unkind floor of Grand Island’s signature arena.

“Football and basketball are fine,” observed Jessica Fossand, “but this is the most exciting time of the year.”

Kimball’s routines, choreographed by the coaches and Wismer, emphasized perfect motion and rhythm over clever formation or fancy steps. In the Non-Tumbling competition, they earned a 66.3 out of 100—just two-tenths behind second place Grand Island Central Catholic.

Pierce took first with an impressive 72.8.

The Sideline performance received 70.6, more than a point ahead of Broken Bow. Falls City, Arlington and Ogallala finished in the top three positions.

More than 150 cheerleading teams participated in all classes.

Dave Faries

Senior Taylor Wismer

“I think we did a fantastic job,” Withrow said. Indeed, the squad met their goal of besting the 2012 outcome.

“This is the best group of girls,” Valle pointed out after the team wrapped up their work on Saturday.

The 2012-13 Longhorns cheer team consists of seniors Wismer, Fossand and Sara Valle and underclassmen Jaycie Walker, Ivana Valle, Jordyn McDowall, Alexis Gawith, Madie Snyder and Mikayla Fiehtner.

Their season lasts from late spring, when practice for the next school year begins, to the last basketball game. Training for state competition slots in between winter sports events and other school functions.

“These girls put in hours and hours of practice for this,” Dea explained. “They deserve credit.”


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