Leaps, bounds place Baker cheerleaders second
Baker University cheerleaders had something to cheer about over the weekend. The squad of 12 and a mascot won second place at the first-ever Heart of America conference competition in Liberty, Mo.
Coach Patty Lenning said the Baker squad placed above two teams that qualified for nationals this year William Jewell, sixth-place finisher at nationals, and MidAmerica Nazarene. Missouri Valley, a squad that had consistently placed in the top 10 at nationals, won the conference title.
"That was a good thing for us," Lenning said of beating out two nationally recognized squads. Sherry Caldwell also coaches the team.
The eight squads competing presented 2 1/2-minute routines judged on 10 categories, including stunts, cheer, dance and tumbling.
The Baker performance was flawless, Lenning said.
"They were very excited," she said of the second-place finish. "They hit everything in their routine. There weren't any mistakes. That's what they wanted to do. We knew if we did that, we would place high."
The success at conference competition was a high point in a rebuilding year for the Baker cheerleaders. Lenning said the squad has slowly grown to 12 during the school year about half the squad size of conference competition.
"We were small compared to a lot of schools," she said. "Most had 24."
No more competitions are planned this year, but Lenning expects to enter more next year. To qualify for nationals, the team has to be selected through a camp or a video tape submission.
"We wanted to get them started with a strong foundation in all areas they are judged on," Lenning said. "In the future I would like to find more competitions."
The cheerleaders, who have been practicing several hours a day up to six times a week, are: Kami Warden, Kim Zaloudek, Reghan McDaniel, Dawn McMullin, Marcy Wiseman, Jocee Farrar, Lindsay Boilla, Courtney Price, Amy Kirkpatrick, Brian Williams, Tyler Tuckness, Nathan Biessenherz and Brandon Simpson (mascot).