CHARLESTON — It was a chance at redemption for the Logan High School cheerleading team — not once but twice.
Logan won the Class AAA state cheer championship on Friday at the Charleston Civic Center, easily outdistancing second-place Spring Valley, the team which it lost to last month in the regional tournament.
The Logan cheerleaders also beat out third-place and defending state champion Brooke, the team it lost to by a mere three points last year in the state tournament.
For Logan, it was the school’s second ever state cheerleding championship. Logan coach Michelle Akers, who was also awarded on Friday as the National Federation Coaches Association Active Coaches Award, which is presented annually by the National Federation of State High School Associations, had led LHS to a state title in 2009.
Logan performed flawlessly on Friday during its routine with no mistakes and finishing with 337.75 points, beating out second-place Spring Valley by 26.2 points. Spring Valley had a 311.55 for the day.
In third place was Brooke with 307.8 points. Riverside (302.85) was fourth, Beckley Woodrow Wilson (287.4) fifth, Jefferson (282.35) sixth, Wheeling Park (277) seventh and Buckhannon Upshur (259.75) eighth.
Akers said she is very proud of her team. After last year’s runner-up finish and near state crown, Logan was expected to challenge for the state title this year as the squad lost only one senior due to graduation.
Logan ended up winning it all and ending Brooke’s two-year reign. Brooke has amassed 13 overall state titles in cheerleading and are a state powerhouse.
“It’s a great feeling. We’re in shock. We’re just so excited,” Akers said of winning the state title. “The routine was flawless. It’s the best that they have ever performed it. It’s always nice to win. Our biggest competitor has always been Brooke High School. They have beaten us so many times. To finish out on top of everyone is such a wonderful feeling.”
Logan’s 26-point winning margin was huge.
To the competitive cheerleading laymen that’s like winning a football game by four touchdowns or a basketball game by 20 or more points.
“We won by 26 points and that’s a whole lot in cheerleading,” Akers said. “This has been our goal for the last two years but this year we told ourselves that we will not lose. We were determined to win. They made it happen.”
Most people don’t realize how many hours competitive cheerleaders put in to the crafting and perfecting of their routine, Akers said. Logan’s girls practice six days a week — after school Monday through Friday, plus a long practice on Saturday.
“I work with the most talented, hard-working kids in the state,” Akers said. “They sacrifice so much of their lives for this sport. I am really proud of them. Without Erica O’Briant, our assistant coach, who helps us a lot we couldn’t have done this. We are a family and we made it happen today. This was our goal back in June. It came to reality today.”
Logan County was well represented in the state tourney.
Man High School’s cheerleaders took second place and the state runner-up trophy in Class A. The Hillbillies beat out two-time defending champion Tug Valley, which was third. Bishop Donahue was the Class A winner.
Robert C. Byrd captured its back-to-back state cheer title in Class AA.
Clay-Battelle honored fallen teammate Sydney Rush, a junior, who was killed after a late September car accident. The team claimed its 10th overall championship. Clay-Battelle had won state crowns three straight years from 2009-11.
Tug Valley had won the Class AA state cheer title in 2011 and the Class A crown last year but finished third this time. The Panthers were followed by Wheeling Central, Williamstown, Notre Dame, South Harrison and Wirt County.
Robert C. Byrd finished with 350.5 points to beat out second-place Bridgeport (340.75). Scott took third, followed by East Fairmont, Tolsia, Fairmont Senior, Liberty Raleigh and Wyoming East.
Logan has three seniors on its roster — Jessica Haga, Maci Hatcher and Krisa Lamb. Hatcher is the daughter of Logan boys’ basketball coach Mark Hatcher.
“They have been a big part of this,” Akers said of her outgoing 12th-graders. “Their first year as a freshman we didn’t even have a full team to compete. These kids have come such a long way and to end up as a state champion their senior year you couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Throngs of Logan fans came to Charleston to root on the LHS cheerleaders. Plenty from Man and Tug Valley were also in attendance.
“I want to thank the fans who came in all of the buses,” Akers said. “All of the support from the fans from Logan really helped us today.”
Logan’s junior team members include Taylor Bryant and Hannah Vinson.
The LHS sophomores are: Myka Adkins; Allysun McCoy; Madison Ray; and Janie Walsh.
The freshmen are: Shelbee Balentine; Kirsten Campbell; Danielle Dean; and Kelsey Ward.
The Logan alternates are Lauren Ellis, Lauren McGrew, Randi Norman and Jordan Spears.
Man’s cheerleading squad is coached by Michelle Grimmett and assisted by Patricia English.
Man team members include: seniors Casey Albright, Cari Blair, Elizabeth Dickerson, Lindsay Eldridge, Kelly Grimmett, Madison Keffer, Kelsie Riley and Jennifer Shull; junior Shantessa May; sophomores Madisyn Lusk and Mitchell Morris; freshmen Kaden Chafin and Sydney Keffer; and alternates Destiny Beckett and Hannah Lester.
Tug Valley is coached by Tara Ellis and assisted by Kendra Duty.
Tug Valley’s cheer team is comprised of: Danielle Gillman; Elizabeth Dotson; Kiersten Marucm; Hannah Marcum; Stephanie Stepp; Allison Hanshaw; Taylor Parsley; Tyra Williamson; Madison May; Breanna Hager; Kelsey Marcum; Lauren Ferris; Savannah Fluty; and alternates Katie Adkins and Andrea Newsome.
Scott’s cheerleading team is coached by Carrie Beth Hager and assisted by Christopher Bulger.
Scott’s team is made up of: seniors Kaitlyn Buckner, Jaime Blosser, Haylea Donevant, Abbey Duffey, Samantha Harrison and Maggie Lester; juniors Amber Berry, Meredith Howell, Jessica Justice, Madison McCloud and Samantha Tulley; sophomore Lexie Bailey; freshman Haley Browning; and alternates Maggie Hager, Allie Dotson, Katelynn Cook and Olivia Bias.