New heights: WAHS competes on Saturday at first District 10 championship cheerleading meet

An unprecedented event will be taking place at 2 p.m. Saturday at Fairview High School.

And Warren Area High School cheerleaders will be a part of it.

They won’t just be cheering for those competing. They’ll be the ones competing.

While these 13 Dragon athletes have excelled in cheerleading competitions in the past, this is the first year that PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association) and District 10 have recognized it as a high school sport.

Saturday will mark the first District 10 championships for cheerleading. Nine teams, and seven of those nine will qualify for the first-ever PIAA meet Feb. 2 at HersheyPark Arena in Hershey, Pa.

Brittany Bowers is the WAHS competitive cheerleading coach, and she’s been coaching the seniors, especially, for four years.

So, having this sport recognized as a school sport means the world to her – for her cheerleaders.

“To be able to have these girls, especially the seniors, compete at something like this, means the world,” said Bowers, a teacher at Beaty Warren Middle School. “We are like a family; it’s kind of like my own kids.”

She admits she’s been sort of a pest when it comes to getting people at Warren Area High School to recognize cheerleading as a sport. But now that the PIAA is recognizing it, she is both gratified and excited, to say the least.

The next step would be to create a spot in the WAHS trophy case for the Warren Area High School competition cheerleaders.

“I’m just telling them to go out and have fun, and whatever place they finish is whatever place they finish,” she said. “They’ve worked so hard to get to where they are… (to compete at the first-ever District 10 cheerleading meet) is an honor.”

She said some of the girls have aspirations to be college cheerleaders, and this type of even “opens a huge door for them.”

The D-10 championships are “similar (to club-type competitions we’ve been at) in that the rules haven’t changed and the environment is the same, but it’s more meaningful now because it’s being recognized by our school and the district,” said Bowers.

That makes it more stressful, she said.

That said, Bowers said her cheerleaders took first at a competition two weeks ago in Westfield, N.Y., to get them warmed up for the D-10 meet.

The teams are judged by certified officials from the Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA). Scoring is based on basics like stunts and tumbling, but also crowd-pleasing, energy, choreography and team-chemistry, she said.

Teams competing on Saturday are from McDowell and Butler high schools in the Large Varsity division, Harbor Creek and Mercyhurst Prep on Medium Varsity, and Wilmington, Girard, Villa Maria, host Fairview and Warren in Small Varsity.

“I think (we’re) going to do tremendously,” said Bowers.

Warren’s competitive cheerleading team includes: Madison Alcorn, Tiara Bailey, Kelsy Cataldo, Haley Conn, Katie Donovan, Audriana Harkins, Abby Mack, Izzy Owen, Kolby Sabat, Jerrica Sheets, Amber Skinner, Briana Sleeman, and Rebecca Swanson, with head coach Bowers and assistant coach Tabitha Waltman.