The Kenai Central cheerleaders won the small-squad state title this week in Anchorage. In the back row are coach Brianna Force, Tekaiya Rich, Rylie Fields, Tavia Wilson, Vivian Ceresoli, Arielle Hamar and Karley Harden. In the front row are Valerie Brophy and Zoe Pascal. (Photo courtesy of Misty Hamilton)

The Kenai Central cheerleaders won the small-squad state title this week in Anchorage. In the back row are coach Brianna Force, Tekaiya Rich, Rylie Fields, Tavia Wilson, Vivian Ceresoli, Arielle Hamar and Karley Harden. In the front row are Valerie Brophy and Zoe Pascal. (Photo courtesy of Misty Hamilton)

Kenai cheerleaders win state title

Kenai Central won the small-squad state cheerleading championship Wednesday at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.

The Kardinals beat out six other schools in the category for small squads, or two to 12 members. Lathrop finished second.

Amazingly, the Kenai team did not even form under first-year coach Brianna Force this season with the intent of winning a state championship.

“This year we had a pretty young squad and only a few girls that had ever cheered before,” Force said. “I just wanted to teach the basics and the fundamentals and build on something for the years to come.”

But as the season progressed, Force noticed her squad was picking up the basics and fundamentals quickly.

“They’re all very athletic and they got along really well,” Force said. “They all have a good attitude and they’re ready to work hard every day.

“Any skill I gave them, they tried and tried until they succeeded at it.”

So even though it was not the plan at the beginning of the season, the Kardinals entered the state competition.

Each team did a 2 minute, 30 second, routine with dancing, stunting, jumps and tumbling. Force said she does not know the scores of the other teams, so she doesn’t know how close it was. She just knows the Kards were announced as the winners.

There were eight on the squad: senior captain Tavia Wilson, senior co-captain Tekaiya Rich, senior Rylie Fieldf, junior Vivian Ceresoli, junior Zoe Pascal, freshman Arielle Hamar, freshman Karley Harden and freshman Valerie Brophy.

Just the three freshmen can return next season because the two juniors are foreign exchange students.

Force is still excited. There was not a cheering squad for football this season. Next school year, she plans to have cheerleaders for football and basketball.

“It’d like to thank the school and the community for supporting us, especially in this first year,” Force said. “It was really awesome to have them behind us.

“The cheerleading competition was a great experience. It was an athletic competition that demonstrates the skills they’ve been working on all year.”

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