RICHMOND — The Madison Central cheerleading team arrived in Orlando, Fla., focused on competing against some of the top squads from all across the country at the prestigious Universal Cheerleading Association National Championships. However, very serious distractions quickly arose. “We had a little accident,” Central coach Karen Feldhaus said of one the cheerleaders cutting her head after falling and hitting a nightstand). “It was obviously a gash. We had to contact her parents and I had to take her to the Disney hospital. “Then we had a child tragically lose her grandfather. So, we had to put her on a flight home (after the competition). That was kind of stressful. And then we had a team member who we knew once we got home was going to leave (the school). It was just a lot of emotional stuff, but they just battled through.” Despite all the emotions and a long list of injuries. Central’s cheerleaders delivered a championship performance on their sport’s biggest stage. Central’s junior varsity team claimed a national championship in the small JV division and the school’s small varsity team finished third nationally in their division. Remarkably, both teams went on to claim state titles in their divisions the next weekend (Feb. 20) in Bowling Green. “It all paid off in the end,” Central senior Allyson McKune said. “That’s the only thing that mattered.” Central qualified for the UCA Nationals by winning a pair of regional competitions earlier in the season. Then both squads defeated tough competition to win 11th Region titles on Feb. 8 in Richmond to earn a spot in the state at-large championships. “My varsity team struggled a lot with injuries this year,” Feldhaus said. “We had a broken hand in December. We had a fractured back. We had all kinds of serious injuries. They had a really hard time holding it together.” Because there is no junior varsity division at the state level, Central’s JV squad competed in the medium varsity division. The team was the last to compete, but supported by a large group of friends and family turned in an award-winning performance. “My biggest fear was that one would win and one wouldn’t — because we’d done so well together,” McKune said. Central’s varsity team took the state title in the small varsity division. “Our JV team had been to state numerous times competing as a varsity team and we had gotten as high as third,” Feldhaus said. “To win one state championship is pretty much incredible, but to win two in one day that was pretty exciting.” Feldhaus, the school’s long-time cheerleading coach, says this year’s team may not have been the most talented she’s ever coached. However, led by a strong senior class and driven by an incredible work ethic, the teams were able to achieve amazing levels of success on the state and national level. “I have to give (credit) to those five seniors (Taryn Adams, Stephanie Beauchamp, Samantha Chenault, McKune and April Robinson) , because they played a big leadership role,” Feldhaus said. “We didn’t necessarily have the talent that we’ve usually had,” McKune said. “We had to work for it.” The JV team received gold medals, white jackets and a national champion banner for their performance at the UCA Nationals. The varsity team’s performance will be aired on ESPN2 later this year.
Madison Central cheerleaders overcome injuries, hardships to put together a very special season
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