The cheers were loud when they were introduced and the loudest while they performed.
And it was well-deserved, as Bartow High School’s cheerleading team won first place in Co-Ed and Grand Champion the Polk County tournament Saturday at Bartow High School.
Grand Champion was for the team that garnered the most total points of all the groups that participated in Saturday’s competition. This year was the fourth straight year that Bartow has earned that. Twelve of the county’s 17 public high schools competed.
This is the seventh year the competition has been held and organizer Lori Joliff, also Bartow’s head coach, said every year it gets bigger and teams are getting better. That’s both good and bad for her team.
The defending national Co-Ed champions, the BHS team faced tough competition in the tournament against the only other Co-Ed team that competed from Ridge Community High School.
However, more important, she said, the students have to compete to not only get better at the sport but to see others and how they compare with them.
“It’s an opportunity to see the competition,” she said. “It’s a life skill … everyone depends on one another out there.”
So far this year, the national champions have won the UCA regionals in Orlando, and the All-Out Championships and the FCDA competition. They did finish second by 0.1 points in the state competition to Fleming Island and she said that will stick with them when they compete in the national competition Feb. 7-9 at the Wide World of Sports.
“That is something that will hang over our heads,” Joliff said. “Everyone is hungry. Everyone wants (the national title) and we really have to think about it. It was also a learning lesson for coach to come that close to a win.”
For the national competition Joliff’s team has to raise $7,800, and the money has to come from the team. They are having fundraisers to help raise the money, but are also seeking donations from anyone who wants to help. For those interested contact the school at 863-534-7400.