HIGHTSTOWN: High school’s varsity cheerleaders off to Disney World to compete in nationals

By Amy Batista, Special Writer
HIGHTSTOWN – The Hightstown High School Varsity Cheerleaders took second place recently at the Northeast Championship Regionals and the Garden State Championship and are headed to Disney World to compete at the national competition this weekend.
“This competition is the toughest that the girls will ever compete in,” said co-coach Dana Kamaras, also a mathematics teacher at the high school, in an email. “They must perform a nearly perfect routine. We are hoping to make it to finals and move up to the top.”
The team’s second-place finish in the Northeast Championship Regionals and the Garden State Championship secured its spot in the national competition.
“The girls took home first place in Burlington, Old Bridge, and CVC,” she said. “They received second place at regionals, which got them the bid to go to nationals.”
The UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship is being held Feb. 6-7 in Orlando, Florida at the ESPN SportsCenter complex.
“The girls will have to compete in a semi-finals on Saturday, Feb. 6, at night and if they place, they move on to finals on Sunday, Feb. 7,” said Ms. Kamaras.
The National High School Cheerleading Championship (NHSCC) is the most prestigious cheerleading championship in the country. The NHSCC is held at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, and nationally televised on ESPN and ESPN2 to more than 100 million homes and 32 countries nationwide each year, according to its website.
The UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship can also be viewed live on Varsity.com.
The varsity cheerleading team consists of 26 girls ranging in ages from 14 to 18 yearand is co-coached by Ms. Kamaras and Barbra Callahan-Andersen.
“We will be competing against 17 teams in our division from around the United States,” said Ms. Kamaras. “However, there are hundreds of teams that compete in different categories.
She said that the team is looking forward to competing at the national level.
“We are very excited to be in Disney World, but our trip is mainly about cheerleading,” she said. “This is where all of our hard work pays off.”
“Sometimes we may disagree, but we are working toward one goal, and that is to win nationals,“ said team captain Bianca Grimsley, 17, of East Windsor.
Makayla Wilson, 16, of East Windsor, said it’s a really exciting feeling to compete at the nationals.
“It gives you a sense of importance because it’s such a big competition,” she said.
Melanie Martin, 16, of East Windsor, said she is excited to have placed so well at the qualifying competitions.
“I think we are hungry for a national win,” she said.
Ms. Kamaras said the highlight for her is seeing the girls compete and knowing that all the hard work, sweat and tears is worth it.
“They only get two minutes and 30 seconds to show off their skills,” she said. “They always lay it all on the mat.”
She said that the girls have worked hard to get to this point.
“We had many injuries and illnesses that each cheerleader had to push through,” she said. “This year they became a family and helped each other through the good times and hard times. As coaches we couldn’t be any prouder of them.”