Pinewood Prep captures state cheerleading title
A 10-year-old goal was finally accomplished Nov. 10.
The Pinewood Prep Competitive Cheer team was named the 2012 SCISA AAA State Champion, ending the reign of the seven-time champion Cardinal Newman. The event took place at AC Flora High School in Columbia.
If you’ve ever visited Pinewood Prep’s gymnasium and taken note of the championship boards, this news might be somewhat confusing. Pinewood Cheerleading is listed as already having two state championships in 2007 and 2008 so how can Cardinal Newman have a seven-year long streak?
Head Coach Merrell Mann explains: “For those two years, SCISA decided to classify teams by squad size, not school size. Back in those days, we were still a small program, with only 12 girls on the team.”
In 2009, SCISA returned the competitive classification back to school size. The Pinewood coaches realized in order to be competitive with the powerhouse teams like Hammond and Cardinal Newman, who had no trouble fielding 24 girls, the maximum number allowed in the division, things were going to have to change.
Over the next two years, they began to make changes in the program in an attempt to level the playing field.
“We realized that we had some untapped potential in some of our middle school girls that were on our JV squad with the emphasis being placed on gymnastics and tumbling skills,” Pinewood coach Dee Devlin said.
Over the next two years, as their successes in competition grew, so did their squad numbers. By 2012, the number of girls that could tumble on the squad jumped from four to 13, and overall squad numbers went from 11 to 23. The squad currently has 17 High School students and six middle school students.
The group includes 10 official spotters- eight football players, one soccer player, and one baseball player.
One week prior to the state championship, the girls competed against Public Schools for the first time at the Debbie Rogers Cheer Classic, held at the University of South Carolina. This enabled the squad to compete against 4-A schools in preparation for the big meet the following meet.
All the hard work paid off last Saturday as the Panthers captured the state title in the 3A Competitive Cheer Division.