Multiple Teams · Bartow finishes third at cheerleading nationals


KISSIMMEE — Bartow fell short of repeating as champions as it finished third in the large school varsity coed division on Saturday in the 2017 National High School Cheerleading Championship at Disney’s Wide World of Sports.

Dyer County, from Tennessee, won the division with 84.6 points, followed by Graves County, from Kentucky, with 81.4 and Bartow with 78.

Bartow was attempting a first for the competition with their program calling for nine hand-in-hands where they then pop through to their feet. It is a new skill being permitted for the first time this year in the national competition.

Their program was apparently the most difficult; however, some of their execution was not as smooth and precise as they had planned.

Immediately upon the completion of their team performance, teams are provided a video of their routine, and they can watch their performance.

Upon watching, the team stood silent and for several members disappointment rose and tears began to fall.

“I am so disappointed for our seniors,” Bartow head coach Lori Joliff said. “We were sloppy. We let the bright lights get to us some. We rushed a few things, and if you are going to beat a team like Dyer you have to perform well. But hey, we are Bartow, so we are going to get right back to work Monday, and we will be right back next year going after another national championship.”

The Yellow Jackets. under the direction of Joliff, James Kersey, Nicki Morse, Deanne Taylor, Kelly Layne and Megan Knox, continue to build their program. They currently have 30 coed athletes on the varsity squad and 24 on junior varsity. Joliff also has started a middle school program that has 20 athletes.

Bartow has won four consecutive state championships, national championships in 2012 and 2016, and in 2015 finished one-tenth of a point behind another national championship.

Lakeland and Lakeland Christian also competed Saturday. The Dreadnaughts finished 17th in the preliminaries of the small school varsity division and did not advance. The Vikings finished sixth in them medium varsity division and advanced to Saturday night’s semifinals. The results weren’t available at press time.