WARREN, NJ - Watchung Hills Pop Warner (WHPW) Cheer made history again in their 2015 season. The organization has never before had both of their competitive cheer teams qualify to compete at the national level in back to back years.
In order to qualify to compete at Nationals, the teams have to advance in a series of competitions throughout their season. The first of the competitions is at the local level for the league, which is the Jersey Valley Conference. This competition took place on October 11th at Montgomery High School. The Junior Pee Wee (JPW) team took first place and the Junior Midget (JRM) Team took second. Next up was the New Jersey State Championships. This competition was held on November 1st at the Sun Bank Arena in Trenton. Again, both cheerleading squads moved on, with the JRM team capturing the State Champion title and the JPW team nabbing second in the State. The girls then faced the Regional Competition. WHPW is a part of the Eastern Region Conference for Pop Warner and therefore competes against other states in the region which include Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. The JRM Regional Competition was held on November 7th and the JPW Regional Competition was held November 14th, both at the Sun Bank Arena. Both Wolverine squads took first runner-up and qualified to attend Nationals.
The Pop Warner National Competition was held in Orlando, FL and took place the week of December 5th to 12th at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The JPW team performed on Tuesday, December 8th and the JRM team took the mats on Friday, December 11th. The JPW team took the National Champion title, while the JRM team placed second in the Nation, both in their respective size and level categories.
For the cheerleaders, the road to Disney was not smooth this year. Both teams sustained injuries, personal losses, and resignations of teammates all at key times throughout the season. Cheerleading at a competitive level is unique in that every girl on the squad participates all of the time. No one can “sit out” as is the case with sideline cheerleading. The two minute and thirty second routines are required to use, and built upon incorporating every cheerleader on the squad. The athletes worked tirelessly since August 1st practicing, conditioning and bonding to achieve what they have. The bumps in the road this season were tough, but both of the squads and their coaching staffs stepped up, embraced the challenges and surpassed their goals. The organization, coaching staff and parents could not be more proud of these incredibly talented and devoted girls!
The Junior Pee Wee coaching staff includes Head Coach Lisa Checchio , Assistant Coaches Dina Grochowski, Jackie Johnson, Noelle Mortillo, and Heather Saum, with Team Mom Liz Papazian. The cheerleaders are local third through fifth graders and include Carly Allgor, Maddie Archbold, Lianna Bartnick, Haylie Billerman, Maddie Butler, Rayannah Cardoza, Amy Claxton, Olivia Checchio, Ava D'Amore, Mia Edwards, Molly Fratto, Ella Grabko, Emma Grochowski, Zoey Gurien, Kaylee Johnson, Gabriella Lobozzo, Dena Mistichelli, Gina Mortillo, Nicole Palumbo, Maddy Papazian, Ashley Patetta, Riley Pfeiffer, Olivia Postol, Megan Saum, Jaqui Stultz and Neelakshi Thanasegaran.
The Junior Midget coaching staff is led by Commissioner Denise DePekary and Coaches Suzie Aschoff, Gerri Fiacco, Stephanie Pfeiffer and Kellie Sahler, with Team Mom Michelle Messarosh. The team consists of local sixth through eighth graders including Angelina Alvarez, Alexandria Angelini, Amanda Aschoff, Hannah Aschoff, Honey Baskin-Islami, Sasha Bergners, Haley Burton, Gillian Butler, Matison Cann, Susannah Cardoza, Christina Delli Santi, Eden DePekary, Micah Edwards, Gina Fiacco, Brianna Jimenez, Sarah Kasar, Sophie Kopelman, Sophie Marsillo, Brooke Messarosh, Mia Papazian, Brooke Pfeiffer, Sienna Prinzivalli, Valerie Ramos, Lauren Richmond, Emily Sahler, Kelly Saum, and Margo Stefurak.
The program will open up its 2016 registration in February. WHPW welcomes all boys and girls to join its football and cheer teams who are between the ages of 5 and 15. For more information, please visit the Watchung Hills Pop Warner website at www.WHPW.org.