El Dorado News-Times

El Dorado to compete in national cheer contest

- By Tony Burns

El Dorado's cheer team hopes to take another step forward this week when it travels to Orlando to compete in the National High School Cheer Championsh­ip, which will be held at ESPN Wild World of Sports at Disney World.

El Dorado finished third in the competitio­n last year and was eighth in 2022.

“These athletes have been working so hard since July,” said Coach Tab Bledsoe. “We fell short of our goal at state but they are fully prepared to execute this routine at nationals and we would love to bring home a top-3 medal again. We would love even more for it to be gold.”

The competitio­n begins on Saturday with the finals scheduled for next Monday. El Dorado will travel with 34 athletes. Thirty will compete, which is the maximum number allowed, giving the squad four alternates, if needed.

“This past couple of weeks have been rough with sickness and athletes being out but that's given our alternates some really good practice time. Hopefully all will be well and ready to go when we leave Wednesday,” said Bledsoe.

El Dorado will compete in Division II, Coed Non-tumbling Game Day Division. Last year the Lady Cats were in Division I.

“We were (Division I) by 14 students in our enrollment count so we were the babies against the super large schools,” said Bledsoe. “This year we are (Division II). The cut off of school size is 1299 students or less, 9th-12th grade is Division II - 1300 and over is Division I.

“Being the bigger school against smaller schools is definitely an advantage, except Ozark is a powerhouse this season. They were the high point in state so we know they definitely have the routine to score well. Alma and Ozark in state have both outscored us but we have also out scored them. It's going to be a battle. But after researchin­g other teams and scores they've received in their home states we (Arkansas teams) are currently sitting on about a 3-point score break above the rest of the teams in the division. Now anything can happen but just looking at scores and stats that's what I am seeing.”

Bledsoe said Alma and Ozark, along with El Dorado, should be considered among the top squads.

“The key to who will be on top is energy, execution, and who wants it more. Our kids have a little chip on their shoulder

after their third place state finish by such a small margin. We have made a few changes to hopefully secure those points we need to be on top and now it's up to them to execute.

“We just need a solid hit in prelims to make it to finals and we need to dial up the energy in finals with a crisp and clean routine to take the top. If they can execute the plan, we can be very successful. We just need all the stars to align because the plan is there. And don't worry, we are packing our lucky piece of wood for a little extra luck.”

 ?? Tony Burns/News-Times ??
Tony Burns/News-Times
 ?? Tony Burns/News-Times ?? Gimme an A: El Dorado's cheerleade­rs perform during halftime Friday night at Wildcat Arena. The cheer squad will travel to Orlando to compete in the National High School Cheer Championsh­ip this week.
Tony Burns/News-Times Gimme an A: El Dorado's cheerleade­rs perform during halftime Friday night at Wildcat Arena. The cheer squad will travel to Orlando to compete in the National High School Cheer Championsh­ip this week.

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