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BE, NB cheer squads excel at state meet

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By Alex Wimsatt

 BOWLING GREEN - Two local cheerleading teams proved themselves forces to be reckoned with after placing second and third in the 2013 Kentucky High School Athletics Association’s Competitive Cheer State Competition . 

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While North Bullitt took third in the all-girl large division, Bullitt East’s co-ed and all-girl teams each placed second in their respective divisions during the state competition held at Western Kentucky University’s Diddle Arena in Bowling Green.

Bullitt East head coach Nate Fulghum, who led the Chargers’ co-ed squad to victory in the 2013 Universal Cheerleaders Association’s National High School Cheerleading Championship, said both teams performed flawlessly. 

“Their execution was perfect,” Fulghum said. “It was a great way to end the season.”

After placing first at nationals, Bullitt East’s co-ed team scored only 2.1 points shy of taking home first-place at state. 

Fulghum said that while his cheerleaders were confident they would do well going into the state competition they knew they were in for an uphill battle, especially considering the level of competitive in Kentucky cheerleading.

Considering the complexities of their routine and the fact the small co-ed squad was competing against much larger teams, Fulghum said it was worth mentioning that the team out performed many of the best teams in the state to earn second-place. 

“I was very pleased with their performance,” Fulghum said. “They did better at state than in any competition this season, even nationals...nothing held them back.”

Fulghum called the team’s runner-up rank a “huge success,” adding that narrowly coming in second after Graves County High School, a team he referred to as a “cheerleading dynasty,” was a morale booster. 

Having placed 11th in medium varsity division I at nationals, Bullitt East’s all-girl team earned second-place at state behind North Laurel High School, which scored 280.4, a mere 5.9 points higher than Bullitt East’s final score

“To have two teams from the same school place second at state in their respective divisions is a major accomplishment. It’s almost unheard of,” Fulghum said. “That says something about our program...There’s a formula there that’s working.”

Fulghum said he was very excited for both teams, pointing out that they worked very hard to be the best throughout the season. 

“These kids are intense. They want to be good and they break their backs to make sure they are,” he said.

Fulghum said both teams are already setting their sites on next year’s state and national competitions. 

“They’re already fired up,” he said. 

As Bullitt East looks forward to the next cheerleading season so is North Bullitt.

After taking first place in the large all-girl division at the sixth region cheerleading competition held in Louisville at Valley High School, North Bullitt’s squad clenched third place at state in the all-girl large division. 

North Bullitt head coach Karissa Lewis said she wasn’t sure the team would make it into the top three going into state, though she was confident the girls would make it into the top five—a realistic goal given the level of difficulty in their routines. 

Lewis said the Eagles’ cheerleaders were highly motivated preparing for the competition, adding that they really became a team before going to state. 

Though they were hoping to place first in their division, Lewis said the cheerleaders were not at all disappointed with the team’s final score. 

“They took the third place win gratefully,” Lewis said. “They were very excited.” 

What made Lewis particularly proud of the team’s top-three finish was the fact that North Bullitt was ranked among veritable power houses in Kentucky cheerleading. 

North Bullitt placed third behind Paul Laurence Dunbar High School and Greenup County High School, which Lewis called “dynasty teams.”

The team lost second-place by only 2 points and first-place by 15. 2 points.

What’s more, North Bullitt beat out the fourth place finisher by 13 points, a significant feat. 

“I was so proud of them,” Lewis said. “They’ve never been so clean or so sharp or hit their stunts like they did at state.”

Lewis said the win was definitely a confidence boost for the team, adding that she felt the team was on its way to building a very good program.

The coach said North Bullitt’s win has not gone unnoticed, adding that other teams are beginning to see them as a force to be reckoned with, like Bullitt East.

Lewis said North Bullitt’s cheerleaders looked up to Bullitt East’s cheerleader, explaining that while they are competitors there is a great deal of camaraderie between the two teams. 

“I was so happy for Bullitt East when they won nationals and took second place at state,” she said “They’ve worked really hard.”

Lewis said all three Bullitt County high school cheerleading programs have done well over the past year, including Bullitt Central, which placed fourth at nationals. 

“I think that says something about our athletic program in our high schools,” she said.  

With that Lewis said North Bullitt was already preparing for nationals, though they have their work cut out for them. 

“The girls have some big shoes to fill, but they still have that motivation to be second or first,” she said.