BLOOMINGTON -- Harrisburg High School's cheerleading team competed Friday in the preliminary round of Illinois High School Association finals, and the team's coach says she's proud of her team's performance.
Caitlyn Dismang, head coach since 2013 and a former HHS cheerleader herself, said overcoming nervousness can mean the difference between a good performance and a great one.
"Nerves are the biggest challenge," Dismang said. "As a coach, you set the mood for your team. You have to stand firm, positive and build them up. Confidence is key."
Dismang said the team began working for this year's cheer season in June of 2018.
"We started competing at ICCA invitationals in December 2018 to prep for the IHSA sectional located at Edwardsville High School. We placed second at the Pinckneyville ICCA invitational and third at the Carterville ICCA invitational," she said.
Competition became more intense at the sectional.
"At the IHSA sectional, we competed against 15 teams from all over Illinois. To advance to the IHSA state finals, you had to place top five out of the 15 teams that were selected to compete in your sectional. There were five sectionals hosted all over the state of Illinois," Dismang said. "With five teams chosen from each sectional, we were top 25 in the state chosen in the Small Varsity division. We made the top five and advanced to finals at the Grossinger Motor Arena in Bloomington."
Team members are senior Hailey Short; juniors Hannah Goldman, Kara Futch and Maycee Hester; sophomores Kinsley Angelly, Lilli Ford, Bella Topps and Abby Trammel; and freshmen Bailey Abraham, Chelsea Jaegers, Hannah Murphy, Jaelynn Walker and Jersey Willis. Rachel Wasson and Jess Martin serve as assistant coaches to Dismang.
While HHS didn't advance to the final round, Dismang said the girls outperformed expectations, and she's very proud of their season.
"After losing seven seniors last year, we expected this year to be a building year," Dismang said. "This team's drive, hard work and dedication proved us wrong. This has been the strongest team I have coached and cannot wait for future years to come."