The many local teams that journeyed to Bloomington Friday with high hopes in the state cheerleading finals were whittled to a smaller number of finalists in a long day of competition at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.
Here's a list of area squads that will be competing Saturday for a state title:
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Small division -- No local teams made the cut, but Timothy Christian in Elmhurst was close, finishing sixth-tenths of a point out of the 10th and final qualifying spot.
Medium division -- Crystal Lake Central, Grayslake North, Grayslake Central, Hampshire.
"Last year, they were .06 away from advancing to Day 2, and this year we placed ninth" to advance, Hampshire coach Rachel Kent said.
She attributed the improvement to hard work.
"We worked the girls really hard in practice. We had a really hard two-hour practice every day and a lot of conditioning," she said. "We worked on getting their routine perfect."
Large division -- Stevenson, Neuqua Valley, Lake Zurich and St. Charles East.
"The girls were excited. They know that they can do better tomorrow," Lake Zurich coach Pam Bonneveir said. "They were at least content with their performance today but want something more."
Coed division -- Conant, Barrington, Metea Valley, Wauconda, Buffalo Grove, Mundelein, Elk Grove, Naperville North.
Hoffman Estates narrowly missed the cut, finishing three-tenths of a point out of the final qualifying berth.
Each team in the finals starts with a clean slate.
"We've got one day left right now, and we start all over again tomorrow, so it's anyone's game now," said Barrington coach Laura Meehan.
She said she is looking to see more confidence out of her coed squad tomorrow. On day one, she said, "the kids are nervous. For a lot of them it's their first time down there. Under the lights, it's a different experience than normal competition."
Saturday's finals will begin at 11 a.m. Buffalo Grove's coed team will be the last to compete, with a 4:35 p.m. scheduled start.