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Cheerleading: 'We are one, we're Westminster,' Owls take winter county title

Maddie Taylor and Hayley Wingo chat with us post victory.

Four varsity teams competed in this winter’s Carroll County Cheerleading Championship and in this case, the best team was saved for last.

Westminster’s varsity cheerleaders were the last of four county squads to perform at Westminster on Saturday and the Owls were later crowned county champions. Francis Scott Key came in second place, followed by South Carroll and Manchester Valley.

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These four teams will represent Carroll at the Maryland Public Schools State Cheerleading Association Winter Showcase on Thursday at Harford Community College.

“We worked really hard for it,” Owls senior Hayley Wingo said. “Especially in the fall when we lost, it’s really good to come back in the winter, work really hard and end our last county competition ever with a county title.”

The Owls’ junior varsity squad was the lone secondary team to perform on Saturday, a competition that saw relatively low numbers as compared to the fall where Liberty was crowned county champions in a field of 14 teams.

Wingo said the Owls practice for two hours each day to perfect their routines. It’s a huge commitment, she said, and the girls’ hearts are all in to pursue success for the team as a whole.

“A lot of our time, our strength, everything went into this routine,” Owls senior Maddie Taylor said.

As is tradition, the wall above the Owls’ section of the bleachers was decorated with sparkly, colorful posters, and one read “Reppin’ MD like doctors.”

Francis Scott Key’s cheerleaders took turns cuddling an eagle Pillow Pet and set it at the edge of the mat in front of the judge’s table as they performed.

The competition’s DJ kept the crowd energized between performances and prior to the awards ceremony, all four varsity squads joined together to dance in the center of the Owls’ gymnasium. Each team’s seniors were honored before the medals were handed out.

Taylor and Wingo both started cheering at a young age and the sport has remained a fixture in their lives up to this point. Representing Westminster is an honor for them, they said.

“To me, it means to be supportive of everybody and everything in the school and just trying to get people to come to games and support the teams,” Wingo said. “We are one, we’re Westminster.”

Francis Scott Key’s varsity cheerleading coach Mickey Brilhart has been coaching the Eagles for 15 years. The FSK graduate recently took over as the county’s cheerleading coordinator for Kari Ganske, who now teaches in Montgomery County.

Francis Scott Key cheerleaders perform in the annual winter county cheerleading competition February 10, 2018 at Westminster High School.
Francis Scott Key cheerleaders perform in the annual winter county cheerleading competition February 10, 2018 at Westminster High School. (Ken Koons/Carroll County Times)

Brilhart runs her own cheerleading invitational in the fall and she said getting everything together is relatively easy. She irons out the competition’s details about a month in advance, finalizing pictures, rosters and registrations. The meet generally runs itself once everything is set in place, she added.

“I love it,” Brilhart said. “I thrive on leadership and I really love getting to be around the girls and boys every day and just trying to make them the best, not only cheerleaders, that I can but the best people because when they leave here, they’re not cheerleaders most of the time. It’s about them being better people and I feel that way in the county too as the coordinator.

“Hopefully I can inspire other teams in our county to coach their kids to be good people and hopefully to continue to move cheerleading forward in the state that we’re recognized as a sport and that we’re respected that way in our county and outside.”

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