WELLSBURG - Competing in the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission's State Cheering Competition on Friday the 13th might bother the superstitious but not the Brooke High School cheerleading squad.
Over the years squads from the school have earned 13 state titles, so they consider it a lucky number.
"That's how we look at it, that it's a pretty good sign," said Melissa Michaux, the squad's coach.
SEEKING STATE TITLE — The Brooke High School Cheerleaders will be competing in the state cheerleading championship Friday in Charleston after placing first in their division at the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission’s regional cheering competition Nov. 9. Coached by Melissa Michaux, Michelle Scherich and Christine Stucin, the squad includes, from left, front, Dani Johnson, co-captains Cassi Camilletti, Alexandra Velegol, Aubrie Reynolds and Holly Davis and Brooke Clark; and back, Sydney Gambellin, Dakota Scherich, Kelly Schambach, Mariah Jeter, Mikayla Misch, Kirstie Barchiesi, Olivia Welch, Makayla Moore, Marin Rogers and Abbi Yachini. -- Warren Scott
The squad leaves today for Charleston, where it will compete Friday morning against several other squads in the Class AAA division. The team advanced to the state level after emerging winners in their division at the regional competition held Nov. 9 at Parkersburg High School.
Assisting Michaux in coaching the group are Michelle Scherich, her sister; and Christine Stucin.
Stucin was the squad's coach to many of the winning state championships and came out of retirement in recent years to aid Michaux and Scherich, Brooke alumni who were both on her squads.
Since 1999 Brooke cheerleading squads have won 13 state championships and were runners up twice.
This year's squad is comprised of co-captains Cassi Camilletti, Alexandra Velegol, Aubrie Reynolds and Holly Davis, Dani Johnson, Brooke Clark, Sydney Gambellin, Dakota Scherich, Kelly Schambach, Mariah Jeter, Mikayla Misch, Kirstie Barchiesi, Olivia Welch, Makayla Moore, Marin Rogers and Abbi Yachini.
As seniors, the co-captains are eager to bring home another state title. Scherich said many of their teammates are two or three years younger but no less eager.
"They're a very young squad. We have two new flyers this year," she said referring to the squad members who are thrown in the air and elevated to the top of a pyramid by the members who serve as bases.
Brooke cheering squads have gained a reputation for high-flying action, with members performing mid-air flips and twists from atop the pyramids.
Michaux said concerns about safety have led the competition's coordinators to prohibit some maneuvers, "but they're still a very powerful tumbling team."
The squad earned 341.55 points of a possible 400 points at the regional competition. It also may earn up to 400 points at the state event.
Squads participating in the state competition are required to present two routines. The first is a technical cheer that may not exceed 40 seconds and includes two jumps and various arm movements and formations.
The second must not exceed 3 minutes and may be set to music and involve more creativity.
A panel of five judges awards the points but two safety judges also may deduct up to 20 points for technical errors.
Michaux said the squad has received tremendous support from the community, including the boosters group, which provided the charter bus transporting them to Charleston as well as other expenses; the girls' parents and students and staff at the school.
She said Toni Shute, the school's principal, arranged for a school bus to transport students who wanted to root for the squad in person.
That means the Brooke cheerleaders, who cheer for various athletic teams throughout the school year, will have someone cheering for them. But long-time supporters of the school will tell you that's nothing new.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)