WELLSBURG - For the superstitious, 13 is an unlucky number.
But for the Brooke High School Cheerleaders, it's a good number because on Saturday the squad won its 13th state championship, making Brooke the school to have won the most state titles for cheering in West Virginia.
At the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission's State Cheerleading Tournament in Charleston Saturday, the squad competed against seven other winners of regional championships held throughout the state.
STATE CHAMPIONS — The Brooke High School Cheerleaders have brought home the school’s 13th state title, setting a state record for wins at the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission’s State Cheerleading Tournament. The squad consists of, in front from left, Elizabeth Fernandez, Haley Bowman, Teirria Duffy, Emily Hosler, Alex Sperlazza and Katie Nunley; middle, Danielle Johnson, Casondra Camilletti, Alexandra Velegol, Aubrie Reynolds, Holly Davis, Brooke Clark, Abbi Yachini, Makayla Moore and Marin Rogers; and back, Sydney Gambellin, Nicole Himmelrick, Lauren Fritz, Kelly Schambach and Caitlin Cuomo. Its coaches are Melissa Michaux, Michelle Scherich and Christine Stucin. -- Warren Scott
The Brooke squad advanced to the state level after placing first in the Class AAA division of a regional championship held Nov. 3 at Wheeling Park High School.
The squad is comprised of captains Elizabeth Fernandez, Haley Bowman, Teirria Duffy, Emily Hosler, Alex Sperlazza and Katie Nunley; Danielle Johnson, Casondra Camilletti, Alexandra Velegol, Aubrie Reynolds, Holly Davis, Brooke Clark, Abbi Yachini, Makayla Moore, Marin Rogers, Sydney Gambellin, Nicole Himmelrick, Lauren Fritz, Kelly Schambach and Caitlin Cuomo.
Their head coach is Melissa Michaux, who is aided by Michelle Scherich, her sister and assistant coach; and former Brooke cheering coach Christine Stucin, who came out of retirement to volunteer her services to the squad.
From 1999 to 2008, cheerleading squads from the school won 11 state titles. Saturday's victory is the second for Michaux and Scherich.
"I'm very excited for these girls. They worked very hard," Michaux said, adding the squad earned 347 points of a possible 400, with a Logan High School squad close behind them in the tight competition.
She said the squad was in the challenging position of being the first to compete in their division.
"They had a lot of pressure on them, but they did great. They set the bar high for everyone who followed them," Michaux said.
The squads were required to present two routines. The first was a technical cheer that couldn't exceed 40 seconds and included two jumps and various arm movements and formations.
The second had to be within 2 minutes and 30 seconds, was set to music and could involve more creativity.
The Brooke cheerleaders have become known for their fast-paced routines involving gymnastic maneuvers such as mid-air flips and twists from atop pyramids.
Michaux said the cheering competition differs from many other athletic events "because they get one chance and one chance only."
She explained each squad is ranked for just one performance when competing at the regional or state level.
Michaux said a large turnout not only by the cheerleaders' families, but many Brooke fans including head principal Toni Shute, helped the cheerleaders to turn in a solid performance.
The squad will be preparing soon for the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference's cheering competition in February.
But for now, its members can celebrate their state victory.
Because their division was the last to compete Saturday, they stayed overnight in Charleston before returning home Sunday, when they were met by a parade of local law enforcement and fire departments.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)