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High schools across the state shine at Deltaplex for cheer competition

50 schools competed at Deltaplex Cheer Invitational
Posted at 9:38 PM, Feb 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-12 23:43:34-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — School spirit was on full display at the Deltaplex in Grand Rapids Saturday. High school cheerleading squads across Michigan came to compete and start their road to the state finals.

The Deltaplex Arena Cheerleading Invitational took a two-year hiatus due to COVID, but returned this weekend. The tournament is a big stage, which can be a big challenge.

“It’s a different venue than what most of the teams are used to," said Candace Heskitt, head cheer coach at Dewitt High School. "We’re used to being in the gyms, so being in an arena like this where the state finals is held, it’s really good for the kids to get the experience in this building.”

However, these teams and athletes came prepared.

“It’s really exciting to be back here honestly," said Hilary Ballard, a senior cheerleader at Dewitt High School. "It was fun being at the [Breslin Center] last year, but there’s nothing like competing at the Deltaplex honestly.”

Fifty schools competed in four divisions over two sessions, trying to win over the judges with their routines, filled with passion, stunts and coordination.

A lot goes into making the choreography look as sharp as possible, and the pandemic did not make things any easier.

“It’s been hard, I think, for everybody," Heskitt told FOX 17. "Kids and coaches. Everybody. Dealing with kids, it’s not just their physical abilities; it’s also so much more about their mental wellness too. We’ve had to adapt as coaches.”

Now it's time to put it to the test, because the cheer calendar is about to ramp up — district finals are next weekend, followed by regional finals and state finals in March, right back at the Deltaplex.

“The closer we get to the finals, the more exciting it gets because you watch it kind of click with the girls," Heskitt said.

West Michigan was represented by 14 high schools at Saturday's competition. Click here for the final results.

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