Hosting the Howard County fall cheerleading championships, Glenelg knew it had the opportunity to do something special: win in its own gym.
The Gladiators did exactly that Oct. 26, winning the competition with 118 points, narrowly defeating second-place Atholton (117.8). Hammond (117.7), River Hill (117.5) and Wilde Lake (117.25) rounded out the top five.
“It was a great feeling,” Glenelg coach Katie Carpenter said. “There was a lot of shock and excitement when the teams were announced because of how close the competition was. My coach friends and I going into the competition, we knew it could be anybody’s game. For my senior [Madison Peck], she only had one fall county competition her freshman year because of COVID. We took second at that one, so coming back this year and winning it was a lot of excitement for her and for us to win the county championship at home.”
That success didn’t come without adversity. The Gladiators were missing some girls both during the competition and in the practices leading up to it due to illness and injury. However, the Gladiators were still able to achieve their ultimate goal.
“Before we went on the floor to compete, I told everyone, ‘No matter what happens that we did our best because the past few weeks have been really hard for us losing a few girls to injury or people getting sick,’” Peck, the team’s captain and lone senior, said. “We did our best and we won and we’re all so proud of each other.”
Glenelg performed in the middle of the competition. After watching the first couple of teams’ routines, the Gladiators went to warm up and prepare for their performance. Then came the nerve-wracking period for the Gladiators between debriefing after the routine and returning to the gym for the remaining teams to finish their performances before the results were announced.
“This is the one routine you really bust your butt for since August,” Carpenter said. “You’re given 2 minutes and 30 seconds to kill it on the mat. It’s not like other sports where you get multiple quarters or multiple games to play toward that championship. Cheer is so different where you get only one shot, 2 minutes and 30 seconds, that’s it and you have to be perfect.”
As the results were announced in such a tight competition, Carpenter and the other coaches looked at each other wondering who would be declared the winner. Then came the anxious moment that she and the Gladiators had been waiting for. Glenelg was announced as champions.
“We were all just shocked but excited, knowing that we executed the best that we possibly could for that performance,” Carpenter said. “I’m not one as a coach that usually bangs on the floor or gets too excited when a team is performing. I try to keep my composure, but when they performed on Wednesday night they were on fire. My hands hurt from banging on the floor so much, yelling and screaming, just pure excitement for them.”
The Gladiators finished with 110.95 points at the Class 2A West regional, 14th overall and third highest in Howard County for their classification. While, Glenelg didn’t qualify for states, the Gladiators have a bright future ahead with a young team.