Grant stars on big stage to win NSC cheer title
By Bryan Bonato Special to The News-Sun January 21, 2013 12:48PM
Zion Benton's Rachel Colangelo at the North Suburban Conference Cheerleading Championships in Antioch on Sunday, January 20, 2013. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
NSC CHEER SCOREBOARD
1) Grant 92.57
2) Lake Zurich 90.70
3) Stevenson 89.03
4) Antioch 88.70
5) Wauconda 87.50
6) Vernon Hills 87.23
7) Lakes 86.27
8) Mundelein 84.77
9) Zion-Benton 81.53
10) Warren 81.30
11) Lake Forest 80.07
12) North Chicago 75.60
Round Lake & Libertyville did not compete at varsity level.
Score ranges: 90-over is excellent. 87-90 is very very good. 84-87 is very good. 81-84 is good.
North Chicago competed in this meet for first time ever.
Updated: February 23, 2013 6:12AM
Antioch High School cheer coach Robin Gwinn calls the North Suburban “the top conference (in the state) in the sport.”
And the numbers will back her up next Saturday when many of the 12 squads that competed in Sunday’s North Suburban Conference tournament at Antioch post big numbers at the sectional level and qualify for state.
On Sunday, at the final tuneup for sectionals, the NSC held its league championships — a showcase event for the sport contested in front of an overflow crowd in Antioch’s gym.
And in the end, while most teams were happy with their scores, the happiest teams were the schools that finished first ... and last.
First place belonged to Grant, which repeated as NSC champions, beating highly regarded Lake Zurich (2nd), Stevenson (3rd) and Antioch (4th in the process).
Last place belonged to North Chicago. But the Warhawks did their school and community proud with a solid effort in their very first appearance at this competition.
Grant won with a fun routine that made extensive use of props (megaphones, poms, letter cards, and a giant ‘G’ banner).
The Bulldogs hit everything in their huge early tumbling sequence and the momentum carried them through the routine.
They fought through a moment of shakiness in a pyramid and one other lift and avoided any deductions.
“We really wanted to defend our conference championship. The kids have worked really hard, and I’m glad it paid off for them,” said Grant coach Veronica Lukemeyer.
“We hope that when we come to a big competition like this, we’re being thought of with the other great teams. That’s the name we’re trying to make for ourselves.”
On the other end of the scoring scale, but just as proud, was North Chicago coach Ebony Wilson.
Although it is immediately obvious that the Warhawks’ routine does not have the level of difficulty and complexity of the other teams in the conference, they arguably executed their tumbling passes (consisting of a single flip), stunts (just one drop), and cheers at least as well as some other teams executed their respective routines.
Wilson is a 1994 North Chicago grad and one of her goals when she took the job was giving the North Chicago girls and opportunity to say that they competed.
“This was one of the things I wanted to do when I took over. We’ve never taken part in these competitions, so I wanted to be able to say ‘We were there.’
“I’m really proud of them. Yes, we are at a disadvantage, but I don’t think many people expected us to be able to do what we did today. We’re here to stay, we’re here to compete, and we’re going to continue to build the program.”
Among the other highlights:
■ Toward the end of its routine, Antioch pulled off an impressive and creative extended pyramid sequence. The home crowd had the team’s back and gave them the largest cheer of the day at the conclusion of their routine.
“They’re there, right where they need to be, and I’m proud of them,” said Gwinn. “The intensity level is great. They are a great group of girls. They have great hearts and they’ve really bought into the idea that if you want to be good at something, you have to work hard at. They have consistently been proving that to me as a coach, and I’ve been doing this a long time.”
■ Lake Zurich’s routine offered several highlights of the competition, a including girls spinning into a synchronized lift and two girls flipping directly into their positions on the second level of a pyramid that had a portion of crowd audibly gasping.
Although the Bears won the NSC Lake title last year, this varsity team is filled with newcomers. There are 7 freshman, 7 sophomores, and 3 others newcomers.