Three in a row for Westosha cheer
Editors note: This article appeared in March 3 print editions of the Westosha Report/Twin Lakes Report and Salem Lakes-Paddock Lake Report
Three area cheerleaders earn all-state recognition
By Jason Arndt
Following a flawless performance on the mats, the Westosha Central High School cheerleading squad snagged its third consecutive Wisconsin Association of Cheer and Poms Coaches state title Saturday at Madison’s Alliant Energy Center.
Westosha extended its state title streak in the Large Division category dating back to 2015, when it captured its first of three championships.
Westosha Central coach Natalia Vernezze, who has won four overall titles – one as a student at the school in 2003 – reports the third consecutive crown is more rewarding as a coach.
“When I cheered at Central, a long time ago, winning at state in cheer was an amazing feeling,” Vernezze said. “But, as a coach, with the girls winning, it’s a greater feeling knowing that the kids and families have faith in you.”
In Saturday’s competition, Westosha Central had no deductions in its routine and collected 114.2 overall points, the most among all-girl cheer squads scattered in all divisions.
“We did get the highest score of the entire day at 114.2 points,” she said, noting the maximum is at 120. “For the all-girl teams.”
Vernezze believes Westosha Central’s seventh-place finish at nationals earlier this month ignited their enthusiasm entering the state competition, which followed a first-place performance in regionals held at Wilmot on Feb. 18.
“After Nationals, the girls became more comfortable in their routine and as they get comfortable, I think they realized they can have more fun with it, it brings that energy up,” she said.
The success was not limited to the overall team, however, with junior Jaden McKenna receiving all-state honors for the third year in a row.
McKenna, along with two Wilmot Union High School cheerleaders, was among three of 11 to earn recognition this year.
“This is her third time, so she has gotten a spot on the all-state team every year since she was a freshman,” said Vernezze. “Jaden is a really hard working flyer, she is the top girl, for all-state she had really good tumbling skills and cheerleading ability.”
Additionally, according to the WACPC website, the school added another to the mix, second place in the Division 2 stunt group consisting of Rebecca Glassen, Layne Schroeder, Hannah Hogan and Krissy Swatkowski.
The accolades, Vernezze said, come after the team demonstrated a strong work ethic leading up to each competition.
“It’s amazing, these girls have worked hard all year to get where they are at,” she said.
Duo earns all-state
Although Wilmot did not successfully defend its title in the all-girl Small Division, the Panthers had two all-state performers, seniors Rachel Kostrova and Savannah Meyers for the second straight year.
Kostrova, a member of the team since her freshman year, said the accomplishment was a bright spot on the team’s tough day on the mats.
“It feels really great, because we didn’t do well as a team,” said Kostrova. “I was super excited to get announced as all-state.”
However, since she was the first to get announced, she was nervous as she awaited Meyers’ recognition.
“Hearing that was really great, but I was kind of nervous for Savannah because I got my name called first,” Kostrova said.
Meanwhile, as a team, Kostrova believes the squad had rattled nerves as the defending champions.
“I think the nerves got to us, it was the execution,” Kostrova said. “Going in, we expected to do really well.”