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Pirate cheerleaders win again

The Crystal River High School cheerleading squad added another trophy to its mantle Saturday when it won the Florida State Fair State Cheerleading Championships in Tampa.

The squad beat out 10 other schools, including Lecanto, in the Class A-2A division for top honors. Lake Weir won the 3A-4A division.

It was the second time in three years Crystal River has won the State Fair competition.

"This is the nearest thing (Florida) has to a true state cheerleading competition," said Kathie Bramlett, who has coached the team for seven years.

"We stuck all of our stunts; the judges said that's why we won," said Bramlett, appropriately using a gymnastics term, since much of what the teams do is judged along the same lines as a gymnastics meet.

Crystal River qualified for the State Fair competition by winning a National Cheerleaders' Association regional event in Orlando.

Members of the squad are: captain Jennifer Hupp (who is going to Florida State on a cheerleading scholarship), Lori Corbett, Dana Griggs, Heidi Sickler, Christy Revels, Megan Bramlett, Heather Sickler, Michelle Spanglor, Shelly Henwood and Stephanie Boldman. Kimberly Marshall was injured the day before the contest and could not compete.

Crystal River won a regional competition and went to nationals in Dallas two years ago, where it placed 27th out of more than 500 schools in the small-school division.

The Pirates were unable to go to the NCA nationals this year because of financial difficulties.

Still, this year's state championship is another feather in the cap of Crystal River's decorated cheerleading team.

"Before the meet, I got butterflies, nausea, the whole nine yards," Bramlett said. "That just comes with being in a sport. I'm so glad we are one now."

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