Bethel cheer squad claims runner-up, academic honors at state meet

The Bethel Regional High School varsity cheerleaders are the winners of the Academic Award at the State Cheerleading Finals. They had a GPA of 3.77. They also won 2nd in the Small School Division. photo by Tommy Wells

by Tommy Wells

When the Bethel Regional High School Lady Warriors stepped on the floor of the Alaska Airlines Center last Wednesday night, they had one simple goal in mind – do the best they could and enjoy the experience of competing in the 2017 ASAA/First National Bank Alaska State Cheerleading Championships.

Their “best” turned out to be pretty impressive – and made the whole experience that much beter.

Bethel’s 12-person team nailed down the state runner-up honors in the Small-School division at the meet, which featured more than nearly 20 other teams from throughout the state.

“I’m so thrilled with the way our team did,” said senior Larissa Strunk. “We had our struggles along the way this season, but I think we overcame every one of them and put it all together tonight.”

Competing against six other teams in the small-school classification, the Lady Warriors’ starred. The first team on the mat in the division, the BRHS squad established themselves as one of the best teams by completing a team chant and a dance routine.

Bethel’s lead stood until the final competitor hit the mat. Lathrop turned in an almost error-free chant and routine en route to claiming its second consecutive small-school state crown.

Lathrop’s win didn’t spoil Bethel’s outlook, however.

“It was exciting to be here with some of the best teams in the state,” said senior Tamryn Hodge. “Really, it was honor.”

The team’s outing received an extra boost later in the evening. Prior to receiving the state-runner-up award, the BRHS cheerleading team was announced as the recipent of the 2017 Princess Tours Academic Award. The team posted the highest cumulative grade point avaerage at the meet with a mark of 3.77.

Members of the 2016-17 BRHS cheer squad included Cyrston LePore, Danielle Kashatok, Drew Pekar, Lakeisha McCann, Strunk, Megan Moses, Serena Murdock, Suzi Twitchell, Sydney Gray, Hodge and Justis Geerdts. The BRHS team is coached by Pamela Conrad and Kathryn Cloninger.

In all, championships were awarded in four divisions, including the Non-Building, Large-School and Co-ed divisions.

Barrow High School notched its third straight title in the Non-Building division, In the large school division, the Colony High School squad emerged as champions, while Juneau-Douglas took the co-ed title.

Colony was awarded the Grand Champion honors at the event.