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West Orange Times & Observer Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018 2 years ago

Ocoee High cheerleading team wins state championship | Observer Preps

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The Knights placed first in the Medium — Non-Tumbling division for Class 2A at the FHSAA 2018 Competitive Cheerleading State Championships. It is the first team state championship in Ocoee High's history.
by: Steven Ryzewski Senior Sports Editor

It has been an achievement 13 years in the making, but the Ocoee High Knights have their first state championship in a team sport.

One year after the Ocoee High competitive cheerleading team finished as runner-up in the Medium — Non-Tumbling division for Class 2A, the Knights surged forward and won it all Feb. 4 at the FHSAA 2018 Competitive Cheerleading State Championships in Gainesville. 

Ocoee’s score of 77.40 bested runner-up Lakeland’s 76.00 — and was a whopping 13.9 points better than the team’s performance in 2017.

“They were losing their minds,” head coach Kristin Johnson said. “Half of them fell on the ground crying, and the other ones were jumping on each other.”

The program’s first state championship came in a season that had some rocky elements. Of the roughly 20 girls who tried out for the competition team, several left the team around the beginning of competition season. That meant Johnson and her staff had to promote some younger cheerleaders from the junior varsity squad.

“We had a lot of trials and tribulations this season,” Johnson said. “We had to completely revamp the team halfway through the season and bring up girls who probably weren’t really ready — and those young ladies were incredible.”

The Knights came together and — in both the regional meet and the state meet — set program records for points.

“It just amazes me,” Johnson said. “I couldn’t be more proud of how these girls rallied and became  a team.”

The 2017-18 season was also Johnson’s first as head coach. She served previously as an assistant in 2016-17 and as the junior varsity head coach in 2015-16. 

The Knights, who also won district and regional championships this year, will now prepare for nationals. 

They are also fundraising and seeking sponsors to help them celebrate their state championship with rings. Anyone interested in helping out can contact Ocoee High Athletic Director Billy Alderman at [email protected].

Steven Ryzewski is the Senior Sports Editor for ObserverPreps.com, as well as all three of Observer Media Group's print publications in Orange County. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida....

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