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Cheerleaders ready to meet challenge of Red Division

CHEER SQUAD ROSTER: Taylor Barrett, Caitlyn Bentley, Marissa Biggie, Jaclynn Borg, Halie Byron, Ashlynn Calka, Melanie Cappell, Courtney Clavet, Peyton Colling, Malena D’Alessandro, Elizabeth Ettinger, Maura Green, Ashton Hulbert, Brijana Jackson, Carson Johnson, Alejandra Lozano, De’Andrea McDonald-Cole, Emilia Paese, Jenifer Plontus, Bayley Rochon, Marissa Ruehl, Kelsey Seawright, Emily Springstube and Kiersten Walleman. (click for larger version)
November 21, 2012 - Oxford's varsity competitive cheer team is taking its success and enthusiasm to a new level this season.

The Lady Wildcats were the Oakland Activities Association White Division champions the past two seasons.

And so this season Coach Shari Russell's squad will move into the OAA Red Division and will match up against not only the best teams in the OAA but among the best in the state.

"We will be playing among the top tier of teams. It will be a great challenge for us and will push us to new levels. Our goal is to be a top tier team in the state and this is the first step," Russell said.

The team will have an impressive contingent, with 25 girls on the varsity roster, the most ever for Oxford.

The team will be led by its four seniors. They are Ashton Hulbert, Jenifer Plontus, Malena D'Alessandro and De'Andrea McDonald-Cole.

Russell said Hulbert has been a leader of the team as an underclassman and will step up even more as a senior.

"She is very dedicated and she will motivate and push others to improve," Russell said.

D'Alessandro has been on the cheerleading squad but has not competed in competitive cheer until this season.

"She has been a great influence already and brings energy to the team," Russell said.

Plontus, Russell said, is full of drive and dedication to help the team improve.

McDonald-Cole also is new to competitive cheer but has shown a great work ethic and dedication.

"All four are great students and athletes and will set the tone for our team," Russell said.

For those who are not familiar with competitive cheer, it has an excitement and energy unmatched in any other high school sports for boys or girls.

The girls are extraordinary with their athleticism and the competition often resembles synchronized gymnastics than the old-fashioned view of cheerleading.

The girls compete in three rounds during a competition. Each round has elements that must be completed to achieve points.

The first round is more vocal, positional and formations. There are two jumps that must be in unison.

The second round is more skill-based. There will be jumps, flexibility and tumbling, all in unison.

The third round is more of a freestyle in which the girls tumble, jump and throw some of the girls into the air, 15 feet or more.

"It is a very exciting round for everyone," Russell said.

The parents and fans that attend the cheer competitions become involved like no other high school sport, waving signs and often joining in the cheers. It is high intensity and exciting and the Lady Wildcats are top tier.

Former Leader Editor Dan Shriner will cover Wildcat football this season.
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