Two suburban cheerleading squads finished in the top three of their divisions in the state championships Saturday in Bloomington.
The coed team from Conant High School in Hoffman Estates claimed the No. 2 spot after a trophy-winning routine in the U.S. Cellular Coliseum.
"We worked all summer, fall and winter to get to this point," said Amanda Schweinebraten, who coaches the team with her twin sister, Christina. "Clearly our kids put their heart on the mat. It wasn't our best performance, but the love was there, and the difficulty was there, so to walk away with second place is a dream come true."
The squad has its own preperformance ritual that helps build up some hype and involves a full-team chant. The coaches told them to rely on each other and their technique.
"If they believe in each other, the sky's the limit," Schweinebraten said.
Later Saturday night, the team planned to make a big entrance at a school dance with their new hardware.
"This is such a happy win after a year of knowing that this is something we wanted to achieve," Schweinebraten said.
Buffalo Grove's coed team, the returning state champions and a perennial favorite, placed third.
Other suburban squads ended the season with strong performances over two days of state competition.
Here are the teams who rounded out the top 10 in their divisions:
Coed: Stevenson, Lincolnshire (5th); Hoffman Estates (6th); South Elgin (8th); York, Elmhurst (10th).
Large: Neuqua Valley, Naperville (5th); Lake Zurich (7th); St. Charles East (8th); Prospect, Mt. Prospect (10th).
Medium: Lemont (1st); Antioch (4th); Crystal Lake Central (7th); Grayslake North (8th); Grayslake Central (10th).
Small: Timothy Christian, Elmhurst (8th)