PLEASANT VALLEY — Bridget Horner has wanted to fly for while.
Now she does — with the North Marion High School Huskies varsity cheerleading squad.
That does not mean she wasn’t nervous Saturday afternoon when she and her fellow cheerleaders competed in the Class AAA Division of the Region 1 Regional Cheerleading Competition, which determined which two squads will compete for the state title in Charleston on Dec. 13.
“Yes, very,” she said as the competition was winding down at East Fairmont High School.
“The nerves get to you before and the nerves get to you after.”
As a flier, Horner is one of the cheerleaders thrown into the air by the “tumblers” on the squad. Size — Horner just reached 5-feet-tall — and skill help determine who will be the members held aloft as they stand on one leg and perform such moves as a “skater,” with ankle in hand trying to touch the toe as close to the back of the head as possible.
Horner has another reason why she likes to fly.
“You have to have a lot of trust with them holding you up in the air,” she said. “I’d feel bad if I couldn’t hold someone up, so I’d rather be in the air.”
Ultimately, the Huskies came in fourth of the nine schools that competed. Brooke High School in the Northern Panhandle won, and Wheeling Park High School was runner-up. Both high schools will go to Charleston to compete next month.
The news was bittersweet for Karen Beckman, coach of the East Fairmont High School cheerleaders who came in third.
“You know how close you were, but the girls have nothing to be ashamed of,” she said.
As she sat on the bleachers with her squad members watching the other teams perform, she said, “I think they did phenomenally. I couldn’t be prouder. They struggled with a lot of things but they came together today.”
Other teams participating in the Class AAA competition Saturday included Fairmont Senior High School, Morgantown, University, Preston and John Marshall.
Each team performed a cheer — which needed to feature at least two jumps, said Gina DeLorenzo, co-director of the event with her husband, Rockie — as well as an open routine set to music.
That gave the cheerleaders a chance to bring it on with their moves that included throwing the fliers into the air as well as performing a series of flips across the gymnasium floor.
Family members and friends packed the bleachers. Jamie Boyce was there to see her daughter, Brittany McDonald, a freshman on the Huskies squad.
“She did really good,” Boyce said. “They had one little accident. Other than that, they looked good. They had a problem and they pulled through.”
McDonald is a tumbler, not a flier, Boyce said. “She’s a base. But I still get nervous.”
As the judges tabulated the results, Tori Keener, one of the coaches for the Fairmont Senior High School Polar Bears, sat in the bleachers with her squad members. The team ultimately came in fifth.
“We’re proud of them,” she said. “They were very exciting to watch.”
Squad member Amanda Long, a junior, said she felt good about the team’s performance.
“We had a positive attitude,” she said. “We amazed ourselves — we had a lot of fun when we walked out on that floor ... We’re proud of ourselves, and that’s what counts.”
E-mail Mary Wade Burnside at email@example.com.
PLEASANT VALLEY — Bridget Horner has wanted to fly for while.
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