Walla Walla High School cheerleaders headed to USA Spirit Nationals in March

From left, Walla Walla High School cheer team members Anna Baltrusch, Chloe Williams, Kaytlyn Dahlin, Lauren Mendoza, Kiran Maini, Nattilie Jackson, Hayley Taylor and Haley Pugliese qualified to compete at USA Spirit Nationals in California in March.

Walla Walla High School cheerleaders will compete at the USA Spirit Nationals in the Anaheim (Calif.) Convention Center from March 23-27, according to coach Carrie Lujan.

“This is the first year we have ever qualified a team to nationals. We are excited to get more exposure for Walla Walla High School cheer,” Carrie said.

Qualifying in advanced stunt are seniors Hayley Taylor, Anna Baltrusch and Nattilie Jackson and Kiran Maini, junior

Qualifying in Intermediate Stunt are seniors Haley Pugliese and Kaytlyn Dahlin, junior Chloe Williams and sophomore Lauren Mendoza.

The girls will raise funds for their trip by hosting a little girls cheer camp on Feb. 4. The neophytes will perform at the basketball game that evening at half-time, Carrie said. Parents can look for fliers and registration info this coming week.

Some of the cheerleaders are fundraising on their own by selling a variety of goods. The team also welcomes donations from businesses and individuals. Checks, with “Cheer” in the memo field, may be sent to Big Blue Boosters, c/o Carrie Lujan, Walla Walla High School, 800 Abbott Road, Walla Walla, WA 99362. Gift cards that are being raffled off at basketball games may also be donated.

To qualify, each stunt group submitted a video to USA Spirit Nationals, Carrie said. They had to score higher than 70 out of 100 to go. During a choreographed 1-minute stunt routine, the girls stunt, tumble and jump. The same routine is used at nationals.

The girls will compete on March 24 in group stunt against teams from around the country in each division. There will be an exhibition on March 26 of all of the first-place teams.

Has the team ever gone before?

Members of the cheer team are chosen in a tryout in April and work out all summer. They learn a dance, cheers, and jumps and then have to perform them. They cheer at football games during fall sports and basketball games during winter sports. Cheer competition season starts in December and ends at the end of January. The girls cheer at basketball games through the end of season in March.

A high school counselor, Carrie has coached Wa-Hi cheer for three years. She coached junior varsity cheer in Arizona for two years. “It is really important to me to continue to grow the cheer program at Wa-Hi. This year, we were able to hire an assistant cheer coach as well, Marchand McCauley, (who) was a cheerleader at Wa-Hi and coached at Bellevue last year, and moved back to Walla Walla this summer.”

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313. 

Annie joined the U-B news staff in 1979 and since 1990 has written Etcetera, a daily community column. She was promoted to a copy editing post in 2007. She edits copy, designs and lays out pages, including the weekly arts and entertainment guide Marquee,

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