‘Cats take second at conference competition

Story by Lauren Bechard

The Baker University spirit squad earned second place overall for its performances at the Heart of America Athletic Conference competition on Saturday.

On its home floor, the BU cheerleading team took third place in the coed division of the competition and the Wildcat dancers were the small-dance champions. The dance team finished ahead of Missouri Valley College and Central Methodist University.

Head cheer coach Allyssa King says it was nice for the spirit squad to be able to perform “in the comfort of their own home.”

“There were a lot of sorority sisters and fraternity brothers, and families didn’t have to travel far, so that was nice,” King said. “I think (the spirit squad) had a little bit more of a drive to do well.”

To add the the festivity, the Baker Athletic Department hired a professional disc jockey, whose energetic personality made for a lively day in Collins Center.

“The atmosphere was so exciting,” King said. “The DJ’s high energy just added to the performances. Everybody was just getting pumped up.”

What the cheer squad was really pumped up for, however, was the new mats that it received at 11 p.m. the night before the HAAC competition.

“Having the new set of mats added to the excitement,” King said when she explained that the team had been waiting on the mats for quite some time.

King said that after Baker approved the order of the mats, a delivery issue put a damper on the cheerleaders’ spirits when practicing, so they were very excited to unroll them and practice a few times when the mats arrived.

“It was like Christmas morning for them,” King said.

The cheerleaders were able to perform twice on their new mats Saturday. In order to go to the regional qualifier, the Wildcat cheer squad needed to compete twice in 2014. The HAAC competition was their first, so BU hosted the Baker Cheer Invitational immediately following the conference performances.

Baker took first over the Truman State and MidAmerica Nazarene University cheer squads in the competition, which “boosted their confidence,” according to King.

The team is seeking as much confidence as it can get, as it will have to make some adjustments to its routine before the regional qualifier, which is next Saturday.

King says adjustments will need to be made due to the fact that some of her cheerleaders are dual-sport athletes, who have other athletic events on that day.

“We need to adjust the formation so that we are utilizing members well,” King said. “We want to make sure that we are all confident in the adjustments. Because of the quick turnaround, we have to do what’s best and that may mean adjusting the difficulty level.”

The spirit squad will travel to Oklahoma City on Friday before performing twice on Saturday. Preliminaries will be held in the morning and finals will take place that evening at Oklahoma City University.