For the second consecutive year, the Watchung Hills Pop Warner Jr. Midget competitive cheer squad participated in the National Cheer and Dance Championshipat the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Walt Disney World. The Jr. Midget squad competed on Dec. 5 and brought home a third-place trophy in the Medium PW3 category going up against 13 other teams from across the nation. They also received the highest score of the day in the jumps category ahead of 88 other teams.
This season’s journey began on Oct. 20 with the Mountain Valley Conference competition at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School where the Jr. Midget squad took first place in their division and advanced to the Central Jersey Qualifier in Trenton, on Nov. 11. The Central Jersey Qualifier showcases Pop Warner cheer squads from the Central Jersey, Jersey Shore and Mountain Valley Conferences.
The Jr. Midget cheerleaders again took first place in their division. They then advanced to the Regional Competition in Trenton on Nov 17 where they had a first place finish once again. The first and second place squads from each Region are then invited to perform at the National Championship.
This is the second year in a row that they have placed first at all three competitions, leading up to the National Championship.
The Watchung Hills Pop Warner cheerleaders and their coaches have worked diligently since the first week of August, changing and perfecting their routine in order to contend with the talent from across the region and the nation. At competition events, each squad performs a 2½-minute routine with music combining cheer, stunting, tumbling and dance elements. They are judged on a variety of criteria including choreography, jumps, stunts, timing and execution.
It is a long and difficult road to the championships, but those who have had the good fortune to compete at that level consider it the thrill of a lifetime. Further information on the Watchung Hills Pop Warner cheer program can also be found on the group's website.
The Jr. Midget cheer squad members are Olivia Braunstein, Alexa Butrico, Kelsey Carlucci, Hailey Crawford, Isabelle Friedman, Summer Huber, Ashley Johnson, Brianna King, Kendal MacTaggart, Samantha Marion, Bianca Martino, Jessica Mendez, Kendyl Messarosh, Madelyn Murphy, Ayla Prinzivalli, Andrea Rica, Ariana Salermo, Tatiana Salermo, Marissa Stamler, Karly Trimble and Amanda Weiss. Coaches: Cindy Braunstein, Angela Salermo and Kris Trimble.
Submitted by Lori Butrico