All eyes are zeroed in on state title No. 14.
The Whitman-Hanson Regional High cheerleaders are back on the mats and in full force.
Forty kids turned out to tryouts in late August, enough for first-year head coach Alyssa Hayes, who took over the team on a temporary basis in February, before being named to the position full time in April, to fulfill her goal of forming a junior varsity team.
“This is the first time in a long time that we’ve had a JV team, which coach Keryn Cordo and I are so excited about,” said Hayes, a 2012 W-H graduate. “Having two solid teams again would be ideal.”
Decorated seniors Anna Franklin and Shelby Newcomb captain the varsity team alongside junior Ryley Hurley.
“They, honestly, the three of them are the best of friends, and that’s how they treat the rest of the team,” Hayes said.
The trio doesn’t just guide the team on the mats, but through the halls as well.
“We’ve got a lot of new freshmen and even [on the] first day of school, I saw them walking the freshmen around,” Hayes said. “They’re just going to lead this team 24/7, not just at practice.”
Hayes is expecting the same positive attitudes to push the Panthers forward this fall that did last winter, which culminated in state title No. 13.
“They seem to all really get along and love each other, which is something you usually have to build up to,” Hayes said.
The Panthers have seven returnees from that title winning team. In addition to their three captains, senior Maddy Anderson, junior Kaylee Diehl, and sophomores Olivia McCarthy and Savannah Po- irier are all back.
“I’m so excited,” Hayes said. “I can’t wait to get going. We already have our competition schedules ready, so I can’t wait to get started. I feel like I’ve been waiting for the beginning of the season for a while.”
And, first up on that competition schedule is the Oliver Ames Invitational on Sunday, Oct. 21. Six days later on Oct. 27 will be the Braintree Invitational.
“Now it’s just let’s start practicing those skills,” Hayes said. “You get the routine in August, so we’re trying to get some reps in and build up to states in November.”