McAlester’s cheerleading team recently competed at the Class 5A Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association state championships.

McAlester High School’s cheerleading team competed for the Class 5A state title on Sept. 23.

The squad competed with 14 girls and placed 11th place out of 13 teams, but McAlester head coach Jara Atkins said she was proud of the team for competing through adversity the week before the competition.

“We had three injured and we even had to borrow a girl from pom to fill in for somebody else so we could make the routine work,” Atkins said.

After qualifying for state the previous week at the regional competition, McAlester suffered injuries that prevented the team from making the necessary changes needed to better its score at state.

Atkins said she took a team vote after the injuries of whether to continue with the competition or to just prepare for next year. She said the entire team wanted to compete, regardless of the outcome.

“We are really proud of our girls for going ahead and competing,” Athletic Director John Homer said. “I hate that girls got injured, but it’s a big accomplishment getting to go to state. They made us proud.”

The coach said that the girls set goals at the beginning of the summer and one of those goals was to compete at state.

Atkins said that although the girls didn’t do as well as they wanted, it’s still a big accomplishment to go and compete at state.

The squad hit a clean routine at regionals and state. McAlester earned fourth place at regionals and had plans to go back and incorporate a few new skills into their routine.

Atkins — who is in her third year of coaching — said that the girls had a choreographer come in July and they practiced every day during the summer.

Once school started, the girls practiced at 6 a.m. every Saturday morning.

“They worked really hard,” Atkins said. “They still had to get ready and go to the football games, they would make it back home after midnight and then be at practice by 6 a.m. the next day.”

The varsity team that competed consisted of four seniors: Mahrle Angel, Camissa Cox, Andrea Lawrence and Jadie Nunnelee.

Atkins also said she “was very proud that these girls supported each other and their community. They worked hard to achieve their goal and they are an amazing group of girls.”