© Dave Mathieson - Amherst Daily News
ARHS cheerleaders displaying the championship banner they won over the weekend at the 2013 Cheer Expo in Halifax are: (front, from left) Denise Crowe, Nikki Burke, Kathleen Hawkes, Chantzlyn Logan, (middle, from left) Samantha Parker, Angela Xu, Veronica Caballero, Ardeth Morgan, Melissa Barker, (back, from left) Alysha Ripley, Meagan Kindervater, Alex Gilroy, Alexandra Bauman and Lauren LeBlanc. Missing is Alex Arsenault-Seaman.
HALIFAX - Cheerleaders are always cheering for other teams, but this weekend it was the Amherst Regional High School Vikettes Cheerleading team getting the accolades heaped upon them.
They are the 2013 Cheer Expo, Cheerleading and Dance champions after coming in first place during the two-day competition at the Halifax Forum.
"We've never won first place before, so I was extremely proud of them," said third-year cheerleading coach Marcie LeBlanc. "It was awesome to see them win it all.
"They've been working hard this year and have really come together as a team," she added.
The team competed in High School Division B against four other Nova Scotia teams.
Yarmouth Consolidated finished second, Cape Breton Highlands Academy finished third, Central Kings Rural High School finished fourth, and Horton High School finished fifth.
The teams are judged on building skills, jumps, tumbling, tosses, dance and choreography.
"Their personalities really shone through," said LeBlanc. "We've been practicing since the beginning of November and we have a three minute routine packed full of skills."
It is a relatively young team, with only one senior student on the roster.
"There's a lot of dancing and gymnastics so they have to have a lot of confidence and be able to show a lot of personality and have showmanship," said LeBlanc.
Many of the girls came up through the cheerleading program at E.B. Chandler Junior High School, and LeBlanc said the experience they gained there has been a big benefit.
"They're lifting a human being above their head, so you have to make sure the people doing the stunts are experienced enough to be able to perform at a high level," she said.
Next up for the Vikettes are the regionals on April 16. There isn't another cheerleading team in their region so they will compete in the Halifax region.
"The last two years we competed at the regionals in the Halifax region and advanced to provincials, so we're hoping to do the same this year," said LeBlanc.
LeBlanc thanked all the cheerleaders and her two co-coaches - Megan Everill and Jake Beal.
"Cheerleading has the longest season of any sport in the high school, so it takes a huge commitment," she said.
The cheerleading season wraps up April 27 with the Nova Scotia Schools Athletic Federation Provincial Championships.
Cheer Expo Note:
There were 120 teams at the Cheer Expo in Halifax. Most of the teams were from the Maritimes but there was also a team from Niagara Falls and several teams from the U.S.