The Pratt High School cheerleaders took 5th in 4A at the KSHSAA GameDay competition

In the inaugural KSHSAA GameDay competition in Topeka last weekend, the Pratt High School cheer squad placed an impressive 5th in 4A.

83 schools were entered across the six KSHSAA classifications. 4A was the largest classification in the competition, with 25 of the classification's 64 schools represented.

PHS advanced to the finals by scoring 154.833 points in their preliminary events. That score placed them in the top 6 schools along with KC Piper, Andover Central, Bishop Miege, Osawatomie and McPherson.

In the finals, Pratt was 5th with 70.50 points. Osawatomie was 1st 78; then Miege 75.25, Andover Central 74.75, and Piper 74.25.

Pratt High cheer coach Susan Pixler was pleased with the event and with her girls' performance in it. "KSHSAA and Varsity had a very impressive competition area and initially it might have been intimidating to some of the girls," Pixler noticed. "I had a couple of girls who are new for the winter squad and have never cheered in front of a crowd - so this was their first time.They met the challenge. They all met the challenge!"

"What's truly exciting is all of the things they saw and learned and the new goals they have set for themselves for the rest of this year and into the future," Pixler continued. "Kudos to KSHSAA and Varsity for running one of the best organized events I've ever been to! They ran on schedule the entire day. It was very impressive."

The thing that made this competition different than anything else her squads had previously competed in, according to Coach Pixler, was that this was the first time they were actually ranked (1st, 2nd, 3rd...) not just judged (superior, excellent, etc.)

Pixler was proud that her squad was assessed no deductions for violations of rules, time or safety. She felt that adherence to the protocols was a key factor in Pratt reaching the finals.

She said she had fielded queries from some observers on why PHS did not include stunts in their agenda.  "I feel that was a good strategy for us," she explained. "There were many really good squads who were stunting, but that created deductions for them and they didn't make the finals.  We decided we'd rather have a very clean, simple routine without as much room for error." 

"This was not supposed to be like other cheer competitions where tumbling and stunting are expected," Pixler continued.  "They do add to the visual appeal, but if not done well or something happens in the rush to hit it in that minute, it can keep you out of the running. This was supposed to be more of a 'game day' situation where squads are judged on how well they cheer and engage the crowd at real ball games."

A concrete example supporting Pixler's choice to forego stunting is that Andover Central would have won the thing had they not received a deduction on a safety issue.

Girls on the Pratt High squad included seniors Brooklynn Bougeois, Alyssa Deibert, Julieann McClain; juniors Danielle Canaan, Brianna Cruz, Sydney Henke, Kieara Kaufman, Savana Larrison, Trinity McDonald, Allisan McGowan, Mallary Nelson; sophomores Morgan Goemann, Katherine Shanline; and freshmen Kasandra Heredia, Kami Theis, Brynn Wilson.

Seniors Alyssa Deibert and Julieann McClain expressed what many of their teammates had felt about the competition.

"Game Day was one of the most amazing additions to my Senior Year," said Deibert. "It was one of the best High School experiences I've ever had.  After watching so many of the other schools, including some from our league, we weren't sure if we would make it to finals, and then we heard 'Pratt High' and we all jumped up and screamed!  What an exciting moment!" 

"I think it’s great that us cheerleaders can finally compete and show off our talents and strengths to all of Kansas!" McClain added. "It’s a great way to make the cheerleaders feel involved in something bigger than just cheering on the sidelines of games. It helped bring out our competitive sides and we finally got to show off all the hard work we’ve been putting in at practices. Getting 5th at the first ever state cheer competition was incredible, and the best possible way to end my senior year! I’ll never forget this experience!" 

Coach Pixler mentioned that many former Greenbacks were in attendance and told her they had enjoyed hearing LOYALTY again, and that cheering along with the PHS cheerleaders had brought back memories.

Attesting to the strength, tradition and history of Pratt High cheerleading, the coach for the winning 1A team, South Central, was AJ (Kitson) Prusa, former Greenback cheerleader.

From all indications, KSHSAA's inaugural GameDay cheering competition was a huge success, and Pratt's underclassmen cheerleaders were looking forward to returning next year and improving upon their very impressive 5th place finish.