"It's gotta be states!" one of the Oil City cheerleaders said.
The squad of 21 girls was practicing in the Oil City Middle School gymnasium Wednesday night.
They are competitive cheerleaders.
"The general public thinks of sideline cheerleading and don't really understand the athleticism," said Neely. "It is two and a half minutes of non-stop action. We are throwing and catching people. It takes a lot of strength."
The squad lost the district competition to Warren by only fractions of a point, but their score was nearly perfect. They were awarded a wild card spot to states, earning them a trip to the Giant Center in Hershey at the end of the month. They compete in the big schools division in a PIAA recognized sport.
Neely knows what this means. She went to states three times as an Oil City student under then head coaches Stacey McFall and Erin Lenze. Neely said it was a highlight of her career to compete in Hershey and in her senior year she was part of a district 10 champion squad with her little sister.
With a squad that is freshmen and sophomore heavy and less than a handful of seniors, Neely expects big things next year and for years to come. And she is committed to staying. "I always wanted to coach and next year I want to beat Warren and win districts," she said.
Well two times actually.
This Saturday they will showcase their routine for the public at 4 p.m. at the middle school. It is a chance for them to show off their skills and also educate others a little more on the world of competitive cheer. It also gives locals who cannot make the trip to Hershey a chance to see this group's hard work.
Good luck girls.
Below are a few more photos from practice and working out their routine this week.