AL Cheer champs

Abraham Lincoln High School Varsity Cheerleaders display the trophy they received for winning the Class 4A Iowa High School Cheerleading Championship, co-ed division. With the cheerleaders are co-coaches Nikki McIntosh and Savannah Williams.

The Abraham Lincoln High School Varsity Cheerleaders now have something more to cheer about than games.

The cheerleading squad won the Class 4A Iowa High School Cheerleading Championships, co-ed division, on Nov. 3 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

In its first trip to the state championships, the squad knocked off defending champion Fort Dodge, which fell to third place behind A.L. and Davenport West, said Nikki McIntosh, co-coach with Savannah Williams. The 24-member squad competed without one of its members, who is recovering from an injury, McIntosh said.

The coaches have worked hard to build a balanced team, as well as harness the students’ talents, McIntosh said. They found some of the boys were looking for a chance to be involved in an activity.

“I think the biggest thing for A.L. is, we are the largest co-ed cheer team in the state of Iowa,” she said. “Stereotypically, cheer is seen as a girls’ thing. My first year, we had four boys on the team; my second year, we had seven; and this year, we have 12.”

That is very unusual in the Midwest, McIntosh said.

Teams at the competition were required to demonstrate stunts, tumbling, dance and cheer during their 2 ½-minute routine, she said. The A.L. group performed twists and layouts, back handsprings into back tucks, inverted handstands, full cradle dismounts and arabesque twist downs, among other moves.

McIntosh is very proud of the team members, she said.

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“They are true athletes — the girls and the boys,” she said. “This is one of the most talented group of kids I have ever coached, and this state title is well deserved.”

Members performed at a showcase in Omaha a week before the championships. It was not a competition, just a chance for the team to get comments and find out where they were. State was the group’s only competition so far this year.

The team trains four to six times a week at The Hub and performs at all football and basketball games — home and away, boys and girls — McIntosh said. Now, they are looking at sending a contingent to wrestling meets, too.

The team’s next competition will be the National Cheerleaders Association’s Senior and Junior High School National Championship Jan. 26 and 27 in Dallas.

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