The Jackson High School varsity cheerleading team has had a great year. It has taken numerous first-place titles in a slew of competitions.

The Jackson High School varsity cheerleading team has had a great year. It has taken numerous first-place titles in a slew of competitions. In doing so, the team earned a chance to compete in the U.S. Finals in Indianapolis, Ind. on April 11.

The competition team is made up of 20 girls from grades nine through 12. Deanna Mazur, head varsity cheerleading coach, said in addition to their participation in competitions, the cheer team is active all year long.

“The cheer team cheers for football, basketball and they do cheer camps, conduct pep rallies, decorate the school in school spirit, and other community activities throughout the entire school year and over the summer,” Mazur said.

The team took its first win at the Fall Classic at Hoover High School in November where it also qualified for the U.S. Finals. It next competed at the Lake High School competition, also in November and took second place after Marlington High School. Mazur said there was only a one point difference between the two teams.

Next, the team won first place at Mineral Ridge High School in Youngstown in January. It took another first-place title at Chardon High School in February.

“This has really been a successful season,” Mazur siad. “When we qualified in the fall, we also awarded paid bid which is like paid registration to the finals for each of the girls on the team. The last time we qualified for the finals was five years ago and we won first place then.”

The competition for the U.S. Finals is divided into regions and different teams compete in six different cities across the U.S. including Indianapolis, Ind. Pensacola, Fla., Chicago, Ill., Kansas City, Mo., Providence, R.I. and Virginia Beach, Va. After all of the teams competed one time at their designated location, the scores are compared and a winner is announced.

The judges looked for skill level in tumbling and other areas. Mazur said it's more about how well you do a routine rather than what you can do. She said the Jackson team does something unique. When they take the floor, they do a full squad standing handspring and that really sets the team apart.

Each team performed a two-and-a-half-minute routine with a dance component and a cheer component. Jackson's cheer team competes in the varsity advance level which is the highest level. Mazur said leadership is important in the cheerleading teams and she said this year's team has several good leaders.

“We have one senior this year so we expect to have a pretty good team next year, too,” Mazur said. “This team is unique in my seven years coaching at Jackson in that they all get along like a family. They trust each other which is important and that's what makes them so dynamic.”

The team has had a lot of community and booster support this year. Mazur said the team has received support from both the community and local businesses to help with the cost of going to the finals.

“I've been blessed to have the opportunity to work with this team,” Mazur said. “All of the girls are smart and doing well academically. Many are taking AP level courses and are academically driven. They all working hard to prepare for the finals so we can bring home a win.”