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OHS cheer team makes national semi-finals

A local high school cheerleading team got a chance to compete on a national level, and even placed within the top 20, after taking on regionals and state.

The Opp High School varsity cheer team traveled to Orlando Fla., on Fri., Feb. 10, for their third time competing in the UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship.

Competitions lasted for both Friday and Saturday.

The NHSCC is held at the Walt Disney World Resort and is nationally televised on ESPN and ESPN2.

Teams from all over the United States and some parts of Canada travel to compete in this event.

It couldn’t have been done without lots of hard work, cheer coach Lorrie Harrison said.

The cheer team won regionals and took it a step further to winning state in the 3A division.

That had to be done for the team to qualify for nationals, Harrison said.

“We practiced for four or five days a week, sometimes twice a day,” she said.

The team also did other conditioning with weightlifting, Harrison said.

“This couldn’t have been done without the girls. They truly pushed each other. They’re a team.”

This year was the first time the team competed in both traditional and game day competition.

“We’ve always competed in traditional. This year is the first time we have ever done game day competition,” Harrison said.

Despite being the first year, the girls took home 13th place in the medium varsity non-tumbling division out of the entire nation.

For traditional competition, the team placed 17th in the medium varsity non-tumbling division out of the entire nation.

“Game day is a band dance, a situational sideline cheer and a cheer. It’s really about being prepared because you could get an offensive or defensive cheer. You have to have your girls prepared for either,” Harrison said.

This was also the first year the team has made it to semi-finals, Harrison said.

“The girls really wanted finals, but seeing where we are makes me happy. We get to go down there and we placed,” she said.

“We’re a little bitty school from south Alabama and we’re competing with high schools from California, New Jersey and New York. This team has accomplished so much.”

Harrison said she is proud of what they have achieved.

“The girls have really made history for the program. They practiced for this and earned this,” she said.

“This couldn’t have been done without the first group of girls going to the same competition three years ago. The girls really built each other up.”

The team mentality of the cheer team has made it possible, Harrison said.

“They’re one team. They work together and care about each other. Most importantly, they love each other,” she said.

“They are just a great group of girls. I’m just blessed to be a part of this.”