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Cheerleader helps lift team to seventh place finish at worlds

Olga Archakov, Editor-at-Large

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Junior Lindsey Winer (right) practices with her team, Radar, at the ICE All-Stars gym in Aurora, IL. In the fall, Winer participated in GBN sideline cheer, but she is not allowed to perform in competitions due to IHSA rules that prohibit high school athletes from participating in non-school competitions during the season. Photo by Olga Archakov

Blinding lights shined down on the cheerleaders as the blaring music played. On the floor, the athletes flew through the air, timing their tumbling to the music. Spectators hollered and cheered as they watched junior Lindsey Winer and her teammates’ performance in The Cheerleading Worlds. The team ultimately took 7th place out of 14 teams in the Level 5 Senior Large Coed division, one of three coed 12-18 age group divisions at worlds.

“[Worlds] was one of the best experiences of my cheer career,” said Winer. “It was so fun to be able to experience it with my team since we were all pretty close. It was also really exciting to compete with the best of the best out of the Level 5 teams.”

Winer said she has been cheering for five years and has been on ICE Radar for two years. Radar is an All Star cheerleading team.

In a phone interview, Radar Head Coach Ernie Valdes said worlds is a competition that brings top teams to compete against each other in Orlando, Fla.

Winer said in order to attend worlds, a team must first earn a bid by attending different competitions that offer them.

“I was really excited,” said Winer. “We got our bid at our first competition so it was … a shock for all of us because we didn’t think that we did well enough to be able to get that bid, and there were only three bids at that competition.”

Winer said she was really happy with her team’s performance during the semifinals at worlds because the routine had to be changed last minute due to a teammate’s injury.

“[My proudest moment at worlds] was probably making it to day two and actually hitting our routine,” Winer said.

Winer took part in the cheer sidelines season during the fall at Glenbrook North.

  Greg Wilhelm, cheerleading head coach at GBN, said the IHSA has a rule that does not allow students to partake in All Star cheerleading at the same time as high school cheerleading.

“It worked out because [Winer] just did sideline cheer so that made it okay,” said Wilhelm. “She could do sideline cheer but she could not compete in the winter.”

Winer said she practices three days a week with her All Star team. Many of her competitions involve traveling out of state, sometimes as far as Dallas, Tex.

According to Winer, All Star cheerleading involves completing a 2:30 routine on a spring floor, as opposed to a dead mat used in high school cheerleading. Cheerleaders may use their voice during high school cheer, but they do not in All Star cheerleading.

Valdes said Winer is a versatile athlete who contributes to every part of the team’s routine.

“She’s great at being an all-around athlete,” said Valdes. “She can do it all. She’s a great tumbler as far as standing and running … and great with jumps. She’s had some flying experience, … and on Radar she’s actually one of our better bases.”

Winer said she is excited for this year’s season because of the improvements her team has made since the summer.

“We are all very close this year again, being it is an all-girl team,” said Winer. “I’m hoping we can show other people that we can be up there next to the other well-known teams.”

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Cheerleader helps lift team to seventh place finish at worlds