The Kenai Central cheerleading squad: Valerie Brophy, Dalaney Duck, Keelin McGraw, Karley Harden, Alissa Maw, Elisabeth Peterkin, Arielle Hamar, Rileigh Pace, Hannah Olson, Karah Huff, Dulce Santana, Emilee Braun. (Photo provided)

The Kenai Central cheerleading squad: Valerie Brophy, Dalaney Duck, Keelin McGraw, Karley Harden, Alissa Maw, Elisabeth Peterkin, Arielle Hamar, Rileigh Pace, Hannah Olson, Karah Huff, Dulce Santana, Emilee Braun. (Photo provided)

Kenai Central cheer squad competes at Rally in the Valley

The Kenai Central cheerleading team did not take any top-two honors at the Rally in the Valley at Colony High School on Oct. 20, but the Kardinals did have plenty to show for their trip.

Kenai Central fielded a football cheerleading team this season for the first time in years. The Kardinals were the only Kenai Peninsula team at the Rally in the Valley.

“It just gives different squads a chance to come and compete,” Kenai coach Brianna Force said. “It gives our girls a chance to watch other squads perform that they may not have come in contact with. It was a great opportunity for our squad of new girls.”

There is no state competition for football cheerleading. The only state cheerleading competition sanctioned by the Alaska School Activities Association comes during March Madness Alaska.

Last season, in Force’s first year as coach, the Kardinals won the small-squad state title in late March. But of the 12 members on Kenai’s team this year, only four members returned.

When the season started in August, the Kardinals started prepping their routine for the halftime division. The routine for the halftime division is 2.5 minutes long, and had to include a cheer section, dance section, stunting and tumbling.

The Kardinals competed with five other teams. Only the top two teams are announced, and Kenai was not among those teams.

“The girls did excellent,” Force said. “They went out there and hit their routine. They had one little bobble, but I could not have been more proud of the way they performed.”

Force said the top two teams were excellent and stocked with seasoned performers. That’s why Force said the competition was so important for her young squad.

“A lot of them had never performed in front of other cheerleading squads and never had the opportunity to watch some of the more advanced squads perform,” she said. “This shows where they can go and how much they can grow if they put in the time and effort.”

Force also said the positive feedback from the community and school from having a football cheerleading squad again boosted the team throughout the season.

Elisabeth Peterkin was captain and Arielle Hamar was co-captain. Both also competed in the solo competition and did not finish in the top two. Also on the squad were Valerie Brophy, Delaney Duck, Keelin McGraw, Karley Harden, Alissa Maw, Rileigh Pace, Hannah Olson, Karah Huff, Dulce Santana and Emilee Braun.

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