Varsity Cheerleaders Reach New Heights at WAHS

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Western’s Varsity Cheer Squad demonstrates a “Cheerleader Pyramid” where the “flyers” L to R are: Layla Appold, Samantha Bailes and Gwynneth Powell. (Photo: Ron Wade)

Cheerleading is one of the most popular activities in high schools across the country, with over 3 million participants in the U.S. In 2021, the International Olympic Committee recognized the sport’s organizations, opening the path to future Olympic competition.

At Western Albemarle High School, cheerleading is a varsity sport that requires many hours of practice and conditioning to be able to STUNT. STUNT focuses on the technical and athletic components of cheer, including partner stunts, pyramids, basket tosses, group jumps and tumbling. For the Warriors, cheerleading is a two-season sport, cheering at home and away football games in the fall, as well as boys and girls basketball games in the winter, and the team added wrestling this year.

This year’s team is made up of two seniors, four juniors, seven freshman and three 8th graders from Henley, and one of the freshmen, Gwynneth Powell, is a student at Community Lab School. The captain this year is Ciera Hanning, while her sister Zyenn Hanning is the team manager. There is one male cheerleader on the team, Jess Vonn, who was also the Warrior mascot during football season during his junior and senior years. The head coach is Chris Stutsman and assistant coach is Julie Stutsman. 

From left, front row: 8th grade Leigha Critzer, Freshman Macie Moon, Freshman Maddie Marks, Junior Chloe Coleman, Junior Raina Otto, Senior Georgia Prichard; Middle row: Freshmen Gwyneth Powell, 8th grade Layla Appold, 8th grade Ansley Rosson, Freshman Samantha Bailes, Freshmen Sofia Valdepena-Diaz; Back row: Freshmen Claire Curry, Junior Ciera Hanning, Freshman Tessa Valmarana, Junior Peri Stevens, Senior Jess Vonn.

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