Park, St. C., Toronto Continue Dominance at OVAC Cheering Championships

Central, Madonna Snap Title Droughts in OVAC Competition

Photo by Kyle Lutz The Wheeling Central cheerleaders perform their championship routine during the OVAC Cheering Championships at WesBanco Arena.

WHEELING — When winning a certain amount of titles in a row, the word dynasty can start to come up. At the OVAC Cheering Championships at WesBanco Arena, three teams put their name into consideration. Wheeling Park captured is sixth consecutive 5A OVAC title and its ninth in the last 10 years. It was also the Patriots’ 21st overall OVAC cheering title.

St. Clairsville, which is always a force to be reckoned with, won its 11th straight competition while Toronto tallied a 3-peat.

Two new champions emerged as Wheeling Central captured the 3A division crown, while Madonna won the 1A championship.

It’s the first OVAC championship for the Maroon Knights since 2015.

“We couldn’t be more excited and happy with the results,” Maroon Knights coach Jessica Becker said. “The girls worked very hard all season and it’s just a relief when it all pays off.”

Wheeling Central had to overcome a little misstep during its routine as during the cheer, two letters got mixed around for their sign as it tried to spell out ‘Central’. However, the girls had short memories and kept their composure and in the end, the mistake did not matter.

“There was an unfortunate mixup with our signs,” Becker said. “But the girls kept going, kept a smile on their face, laughed it off and we’re just happy it worked out in the end.”

Wheeling Park also had to overcome a little bit of adversity as one of its cheerleaders was in the hospital this week. So, the Patriots changed their routine Wednesday. On its way to capture yet another title, it looked as though Wheeling Park had been practicing the performance since the beginning of the year.

“They’ve really come together this last week with injuries and with one of the kids being in the hospital, I couldn’t be happier with their performance,” Wheeling Park coach Shawna Shepherd said.

“They adapted really well to the changes we had to make. They all stepped up when they needed to and we just wanted to put it on the floor for our cheerleader that wasn’t able to compete because of illness.”

St. Clairsville has been the top of its class for the past decade and it started a new one the same way, in winning fashion. However, when one wins year in and year out, a target is put on your back and the competition doesn’t get any easier. Red Devils coach Shawn Tomlan noted how nervous her girls were in the stands before they had to compete.

“It feels good, but we’re very nervous when we came out,” Tomlan said. “You never know what’s going to happen. We never expect anything because of the talent is really difficult when you come over here. There’s a lot of really good cheerleaders. But they work hard. They work hard to get those victories.”

Another winning tradition that has continued is Toronto as it won its third OVAC title in a row, but first under coach Samantha Provenzano. It’s also the eighth overall title for the Red Knights.

“I am so proud of these girls,” Provenzano said. “This is our goal for the entire year and they worked so hard for this goal and they achieved it. I could not be more proud of them.

“It’s unbelievable. I’m just so proud and so thankful to be a part of this program. It’s just a great feeling.”

In the 1A division, Madonna captured its first OVAC title since 2006. The Blue Dons, however were unsure about how they would finish as some of the cheerleaders witnessed some mistakes on video of their routine. But no matter where they would have finished, coach Maria Canella would have been proud of her team. In the end, all of Madonna’s hard work paid off.

“Every time they go out on the floor, as long as they give 100 percent, we’re happy,” Canella said. “They were a little hard on themselves. They saw some flaws when they watched the video. We told them, ‘As long as you give it all, we don’t care where you place. We came out on top and we couldn’t be any happier.

“We won in ’03 when my daughter was on this squad and to come with this group of girls is very special. I’m really proud.”