Knights riding high on road to Nationals

Kendall Nebbia, Jessie Savastano, Carly Arnold, Francesca Pacucci, and Marcella Kowalski all hitch together during their pyramid formation.


            Since the beginning of their season, the cheerleading team has had one goal in mind: performing in the national competition. With that goal now within reach, all the effort gone into polishing their routine will finally pay off in Orlando this coming week. 

            The team has been on a streak of success on their way to nationals on December 11 at Woodbridge High School. “We went into the competition knowing that if we hit a clean routine, we would have a good chance of winning.,” shared senior Ryann Clawson.

            The tension built as the team waited for their chance on the mat since they were one of the last teams to perform. “The waiting was nerve wracking,” junior Lillian Antar divulged.

            “We knew we had to go out there and hit our routine, and we did just that,” added Antar. “I was so proud of the work we put out there and to win the GMC title in all its glory proved that our hard work paid off. I was ecstatic.” The squad won the GMC Championship for the seventh time in program history.

Lilian Antar grands Francesca Pacucci’s foot in preparation for a “full up.”

            Getting that first win gave the girls confidence and pumped them up for the season to come. “Hearing our names get called for the 1st place GMC title created so much excitement for the team and really set the stage for the rest of the competition season,” explained Clawson.

            The girls continued their momentum on January 15 by earning the title of Grand Champions for their performance of their gameday routine at Warren Hills Highschool. This type of success so close to nationals is pivotal to team morale. “Performing at nationals comes with a lot of nerves, but winning Grand Champions really made the team more confident in ourselves.      We all want to put our best on the mat,” added junior Kailey Siegel. 

After winning their bid back in November, the team has had a long and tough road to nationals, consisting of hours of constant preparation. “We practice every day, even on weekends,” said Antar. “Even with our practice schedule, we manage to fit in two basketball games per week.”  

Kendall Nebbia, Jessie Savastano, Carly Arnold, Francesca Pacucci, and Marcella Kowalski about to hit the last pose of the pyramid.

            While most of their events occur during the school year, the team’s practice and preparation cycle begins long before the term starts. “It starts with going to a 3-day master camp with the program of UCA, followed by a certain number of competitions, and finally receiving a bid at a regional competition,” Antar explained. “But it’s so much more than that. We work so hard to perfect our routines.” 

            The team will travel to Orlando on February 9 and will compete in the Large Varsity Game Day and the Medium Varsity Traditional division and look forward to showing off what they have been practicing. “We are so excited to have this opportunity. It means so much to us because it shows that all of our hard work throughout the season is paying off,” shared Clawson. 

Lilian Antar, Skyler Cronin, and Carly Arnold strike a low v during their dance.

            Most of what the team does to prepare for the competitions goes unnoticed, so getting to show off what they all have been working towards is a big accomplishment for the team. “It means the world to me and the rest of the team to be able to go all the way to Disney to perform,” said junior Emily D’alessio. “We are so thankful for the opportunity to be able to go against teams from all over the country.”  

            The combined efforts of the team will all come to fruition when they perform in Disney from February 10 to 12. First, come out to see their routine and show your support at the Nationals Send Off on Monday, February 6 at 6pm in the Back Gym. 

Posted on 02/03/23 

Photos by Katelyn Buchalter

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