ECCHS cheerleaders set to compete for national championship

The Elk County Catholic High School competition cheerleading squad is on their way to the National High School Cheerleading Championship in Orlando, Fla. for the second year in a row.There are 19 members on Elk Catholic's competition cheerleading squad this season: seven seniors, three juniors, five sophomores, and four freshmen. Members of the squad are Kathleen Kneidel, Ashley Seelye, Marissa Armstrong, Shelby Gorman, Brittany Auman, Erica Wehler, Jodi Meyer, Katie Pearson, Maria Gismondi, JoAnne Aiello, Jordan Lenox, Allison Perryman, Morgan Geyer, Emily Bush, Ashley Gerg, Shania Gorman, Sydnie Stauffer, Marissa Heary and Hannah Schneider. Team members began their journey on Wednesday afternoon as they traveled to Pittsburgh International Airport, where they spent the night. Their flight left early this morning and the team will continue practicing and perfecting their routine prior to the preliminary round of the competition on Saturday morning. "We're competing at the Indiana Jones Theater at Disney's Hollywood Studios in the Large Varsity Division II," said ECC cheerleading coach Marlene Stubber. "We're a Division II school. It's based on size."Even though Elk Catholic is considered Division II school for the competition, Stubber added that it falls on the lower end of that category. According to Stubber, over 30 teams are expected to compete in Large Varsity Division II. The team won their at-large bid on Dec. 11, 2011 after finishing second to a team from North Allegheny in a regional competition held at Slippery Rock University. "The team that we took second to at regionals will not be in our division at nationals because they're a Division I school. So we won't be up against them, but there will be a lot of good teams there," Stubber said. Stubber explained that the first-place team at each regional receives an automatic bid to the national competition. "Then the additional bids are given based on [teams' scores being] at a percentage of the first-place team. So basically you have to be pretty close, and when the scores drop then the bids stop, too," Stubber said.