Pontiac Indians cheer squad making return trip to state
Pontiac lost just two seniors from its 2021-22 competitive cheerleading squad that reached state. With a squad that requires 10 competitors, that was a small number to overcome.
So, with a lot of experience coming back, and most of it young, the Indians set their sights on making a return trip to Grossinger Arena in Bloomington this season.
The young ladies did just that and will be competing Friday morning in the small-school division.
“We weren’t sure how it was going to work out (at sectional) because we up against some really good teams,” said PTHS senior Addisyn Holzhauer. “We worked super hard during the season.”
That work paid off as the Indians placed fifth at sectional. There were 15 teams competing at the Hoffman Estates (Conant) Sectional in the small-school division. Wilmington won with 87.53 points and Joliet Catholic was second. PTHS placed fifth with 82.63 points to take the last qualifying spot by a tenth of a point over Lexington (82.53). Prairie Central (73.07) was 12th.
Wilmington placed fifth overall last year while PTHS was 23rd. The Indians are looking for looking for better results this time around, even though just getting there is an accomplishment.
“Our goal at the beginning of the season was to get top 10,” Holzhauer said. “But we’re just really happy that we made it to state. No matters what happened Saturday, I think we’re all going to feel accomplished.”
That low-key approach could help in reaching the original goal. But head coach Rhiannon Long has been helong the ladies push toward being the best they can be.
“Last year, they were hoping to get to state,” Long said. “This year, it was really a goal that they set at the beginning of the season.
“These girls started this summer on skills and getting the routine together. They do a lot of stuff outside of practice to push themselves. They work really hard and are driven.”
Making the top 10 is important for Pontiac, who is scheduled to hit the stage at 11:35 a.m. Friday. It’s the top 10 who advance to the final round on Saturday.
The season has been a good one for the Tribe. It has placed in the top three of four regular-season competitions and the ladies qualified for the ICCA state meet. PTHS came away with a sixth-place finish at the ICCA, which was held at the Bank of Springfield Arena in Springfield. There were 32 teams competing and the stage was big, which is what they will the Indians will be dealing with in Bloomington.
“We do have a lot of new girls who are competing with us,” Holzhauer said. “The girls who have already been there, it’s there job to make sure (the new girls) are comfortable back stage. It’s not like a regular competition, it’s not in a gym. It’s in a arena, it’s bigger and scarier. There’s a bigger panel of judges and the bright lights and the people. The music is loud and the audience is even louder.”
Holzhauer is one of four seniors, which includes Piper Brewer, Natalie Davis and Gloriana Birkett. The rest of the cheer squad are Payton Semmens, Riley Kelly, Sienna Metz, Maria Long, Kate Christensen, Reese Bohm, Tatum Dopler, Riley Rogers, Emma Gragert, Aria Hittle, Alexa Hittle, Ashley Heath, Olivia Edinger and Hayley Shelton.
“We’ve done really really good at competitions,” Holzhauer said. “I think it’s going to be a good weekend.”