Is there a changing of the guard coming among the leaders in coed cheerleading?
The preliminaries of the Illinois High School Association cheerleading championships are over Friday night, and Lake Park High School is sitting at the top of the coed squads going into Saturday's finals.
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Lake Park is followed in quick succession by Barrington, Streamwood, Downers Grove North, Mundelein, Belvidere North, Niles North, Palatine, Libertyville and Buffalo Grove high schools -- wrapping up the top 10. These schools all live to compete for the coed title on Saturday.
Shockingly, perhaps, last year's coed champ finished out of the running. Elk Grove High School, for years the dominant force in coed cheerleading, finished 15th on Friday. Their coach from last year, Jeff Siegal, left EGHS at the end of last season to return to BGHS, where his 2010-11 team squeaked into the finals by 0.06 point -- over 11th place Rich Central.
In large-school competition, suburban schools are well represented in the top 10. Lake Zurich finished second in Friday's prelims, less than a point behind Providence Catholic of New Lenox. Third through 10th place went to Conant, Sandburg (Orland Park), Lockport Twp., Andrew (Tinley Park), St. Viator, Lincoln-Way East, Chicago Marist and Glenbard West.
Local schools that didn't make the large-school finals were Stevenson, Neuqua Valley, Rolling Meadows, Grant, Schaumburg, Loyola Academy, Maine South and Carmel Catholic.
Earlier today, the Friday preliminaries for small- and medium-size schools was good news for suburban schools.
Among the medium schools, Antioch High School continued its powerhouse ways, winning the preliminary competition with an 89.94 score.
Prairie Ridge High School in Crystal Lake is in second place, with 88.26 points. Neither squad had any deductions.
Wauconda High School finished fifth in the prelims with 86.28 points. Grayslake North was tied for seventh (with a school from Highland, Ill.) with 85.52 points and Vernon Hills High School finished ninth with 85.24 points.
Glenbard South finished 15th and St. Francis finished 24th, both out of the Saturday finals.
In the small school division, Timothy Christian School in Elmhurst came in second in the prelims, assuring them a spot in the finals.
For the second year in a row, the entire event will be streamed live on www.IHSA.tv, and available to be viewed any time on-demand after the event is over. The free webcast will feature video of every team's performance.