MONROEVILLE It came down to a final routine and it had to be better than the one from the day before.
The Monroeville cheerleaders were up to the task as they successfully defended their small varsity non-mount traditional division winter cheerleading championship, a competition sponsored by AmeriCheer.
The competition was held earlier this month at the Columbus Convention Center
The group is led by Kari Lavalley, a former cheerleader and 2000 Monroeville graduate, who took over the coaching reins from 12-year veteran Karen Reer. The 12-persons team did a chant and two dance routines, one hip hop and one tumbling. It was in tumbling the group had serious problems with on Saturday.
"They compete just once each day with the best score of the two days used as criteria," Lavalley said. "It was down to a school from Erie, Pa., one from Chillicothe High School and us for the overall championship. We may have been the defending champions, but the girls knew they had a lot of work to do on Sunday. Thanks goodness the scoring criteria was such that the best score of the two days was used.
In the end, an 83.82 percent on Sunday shaded Chillicothe by two points.
"No question, being there before helped us on Sunday," Lavalley said. "Karen's teams had been named grand champion of the competition twice previously and won their divisions three times so many of the girls had faced that kind of pressure."
Lavalley said it is a somewhat scary competition right from the start.
"This year we used the basketball cheerleaders, 12 of them. We had no alternates. That means there was no room for sickness. No room for injury. And injury could have been a problem on Sunday because we had one girl who could have been seriously hurt on Saturday when she missed a round-off back tuck."
The team is made up of six seniors, four juniors and two sophomores. They practice twice a week for two hours until it gets close to show time. Then they go as many as four days a week for two hours.
"We also have to get used to a spring floor," Lavalley said. "Fortunately, we can go to Sandusky prior to the competition and get used to that bouncy feeling because that's what we compete on in Columbus. That surface makes a huge difference as far as timing.
"None of this would be possible if it was not for the mom's group that fund's us," said the 24-year-old special programs coordinator and substitute teacher at Monroeville High School. "We stayed at the Hyatt Regency next to the center."
The team will perform the routine at halftime of the boys' varsity game on Friday for Seniors' Night.
"I am extremely proud of these girls," Lavalley said. "They work very hard and spend countless hours perfecting a competition that lasts just 2 1/2-minutes. They have successfully continued what has become a Monroeville tradition."