Lakeland and Auburndale reach FHSAA Cheerleading Finals at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee
Sun. February 03, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. | By Nathan Halverson
A few Lakeland cheerleaders holding up their well deserved State Runner-Up Trophy in the Class 2A Small Division. (Photo by NATHAN HALVERSON | LEDGER CORRESPONDENT)
By NATHAN HALVERSON
KISSIMMEE |Lakeland went from 17th in the 2012 Class 2A Large Division Semifinals to State Runner-Up in the Class 2A Small Division Finals Saturday before 250 fans at the Silver Spurs Arena.
“It’s almost overwhelming,” Lakeland senior Meredith Marshall said. “There are so many highs and lows.”
State Champion Orlando Dr. Phillips outscored Lakeland 81.7-75.6 to win its fifth straight championship.
“We are really proud to beat our school record of five years in a row now,” Dr. Phillips sophomore Kelly Gomez said referring to the old school record of four. “We have been working really hard all week and all year.”
Lakeland first-year head coach Crystal Abdon said: “I am extremely excited to go from 17th to 2nd.
Auburndale finished third in the Class 1A Medium Finals with a score of 79.2 coming up short by two points as Largo Indian Rocks Christian (81.2) was state champion and Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons finished as state runner-up (81.1).
“We made the routine a little harder in the finals,” Auburndale head coach Niki Sadler said. “I prayed for no injuries and we had no injuries.”
The Bloodhounds scored 77.2 points in the semifinals to advance to the finals (top three teams advance). Winter Haven and Tenoroc recorded scores of 57.7 and 54.4 respectively.
“I look up to coach Julie Jennings so much and we wouldn’t be here without her,” Sadler said before knowing the Bloodhounds reached the finals.
Jennings is in her 26th year with the Bloodhounds cheerleading program and stepped down as head coach before this season.
“It was time with my youngest graduating in 2011,” Jennings said.
“Overall I think they did their personal best and I am very proud of them,” fourth-year Tenoroc head coach Jennifer Nestor said of her Titans cheerleaders.
Auburndale won the 2011 FHSAA Class 1A Large Division State Championship with a score of 85.475 and was the only Polk County School to win a state title that year.
The Bloodhounds perform at the State Fairgrounds February 9 and will compete in the large division with 19 girls. Auburndale performed with 16 girls during the state competition with just three seniors.