South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

In first year of program, Lutheran South cheer team is heading to state finals

The Lutheran South Competition Cheer Team. Photo provided by Cristyn Cannon.

In their inaugural season, the Lutheran High School South competition cheer team did the incredible: they qualified to compete in the Missouri Cheer Coaches Association State competition.

“It was really crazy, we didn’t expect to make it that far,” Audrey Lange, head captain and Lutheran South senior, said. “We were just happy to be there, honestly, so to hear that we made it … it was just pretty cool.”

“It was honestly amazing,” Jaleigh Wagner, co-captain and Lutheran South junior, echoed. “It was pretty shocking, because we kinda had a fall, but we picked ourselves back up and we still had faith. It was amazing to know that we still made state, it was just a great team feeling.”

The state competition will take place Dec. 9 and 10 at the Show Me Center at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau. The Lutheran South squad is a part of the 3A Small division, per Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) size regulations, and will compete against schools including Ursuline Academy and Westminster Christian Academy. In total, 10 teams will be competing in the 3A Small division – five teams from St. Louis regionals and five teams from Kansas City regionals – though there will be close to 200 teams competing throughout the divisions that weekend.

“Everybody competes once, so half of the teams compete on Saturday, half of the teams compete on Sunday,” assistant coach Leah Schave said. “Everybody has about a 3-minute routine. That’s all you get, you get three minutes to show what you’re worth.”

Luckily, Schave knows a thing or two about cheerleading. She was a Lancer cheerleader herself while she was a student at Lutheran South, and even acted as captain of the squad. Her career continued at Southeast Missouri State University where she cheered throughout college, so the state competition should feel like a homecoming of sorts for the young coach.

“When I was (at Lutheran South), I could have never imagined us even going to regionals, much less placing and making it to state, so that’s super exciting for me that I get to be a part of this,” she said. “I love cheerleading, I have a passion for it. It’s just really exciting to see how much the program has grown since I was on the team because I would have never dreamed of this.”

Head coach Cristyn Cannon can be credited for much of the program’s growth. Though this season was just her third with the Lancers, she has changed the entire Lutheran South cheer program for the better by creating this new competition squad.

“The girls have made tremendous progress in their skills,” Cannon said. “Competition was the next logical level to take them so that they can continue to build on what they’ve learned and challenge themselves.”

It should be noted that those on the competition team are still a part of the Gameday squad, who, as the name implies, cheer for all varsity football and basketball games. During tryouts, the top 14 of the 26 who made it on the Gameday squad were asked to join the competitive team as coaches saw “increased athleticism, jumps and tumbling” in them.

“We love our Gameday team…but I think competition was a chance to kind of take those skills a little bit to the next level and just try as many new things as we can,” Julia Kuschel, co-captain and Lutheran South junior, said.

“We love to dance and try new stunts and just get new experiences, so this was a nice (chance) to learn new things and get to spend even more time with our team,” Lange agreed. “Because they’re, like, our closest friends.”