WHEATLAND - Wheatland High School has brought home a lot of state champion hardware in its rich high school history. Last week, the competitive cheer team added to the collection with two more trophies.
The team was crowned state champions for coed cheer stunt and placed third for game day cheer.
“I started practicing with the girls since the beginning of August,” said varsity cheer coach Catherine Benton who is also the computer teacher at Libbey Elementary School. “And then Maddy (varsity assistant coach Madison Tretter who also works as a CNA at Platte County Legacy Homes) was hired in October.”
There is a bond between the cheerleaders and a blood bond between the coaches as they are sisters and they are both expecting children within the months to come. They are not only coaching a generation of champions, but carrying another generation of champions in the form of two little girls who can one day say that they have been to the state tournament.
As for sibling rivalry, they may have a disagreement or two, but Tretter said that they mostly had their disputes when they were younger. With related coaches, the feeling of the squad is more than team, but family.
Both Benton (Wheatland 2015 graduate) and Tretter (Guernsey 2018 graduate and Wheatland cheerleader) cheered in high school and Benton went on the cheer at the University of Wyoming. Benton was a flyer and Tretter, a base, and so each has their own special talents to evaluate the squad and things that are and are not working.
“It was a really interesting season,” Benton said. “Regular cheer seasons go from August to March but this year due to COVID, we had our regular start to the season and we had football season, and then we were informed Nov. 11 that we were only going to get to perform for State Spirit in January when we are usually able to perform in March.”
That cut over six weeks of practice time and preparation time for the state tournament. The Wyoming State Athletic Association, due to the need for special regulations and social distancing at the state basketball tournament, they gave extra time to accommodate the basketball programs.
“We only have the one competition,” Benton said. “We competed in game day which goes back to the traditional values of cheer like crowd leading, using your props effectively and they don’t want to see a big show. They want to see how well you can lead a crowd. And then you turn around to coed and that’s your big show, what stunts can you throw, your most impressive and what skills you have that blow everybody out of the water.”
The day of the competition, Benton set boundaries for the long bus ride to the event center.
“The bus ride up we have some rules that they are not allowed to really jump around and sing because that’s their time to focus,” Benton said. “But then on the way back, I mean, it was wild in the best way. It was wonderful. They were singing, they were screaming and they deserved every moment of it.”
The coaches knew that the tradition for Wheatland was to escort the state champs on firetrucks in a parade around town, but the coaches were so focused on the competition that they had forgotten about it. This is Benton’s fourth year of competition and perhaps she thought it would go as previous years with a “good job, we’ll get them next year.”
“We were at the event center and Cedric Philo, (Wheatland athletic director) said, ‘hey what time are you going to be home?’” Benton said. “I replied, ‘I don’t know, does it matter?’ which is when he told her ‘yeah, let’s get these kids on the firetrucks.’”
To have cheered at Wheatland during their younger years and now coaching at their alma mater.
“It’s really fun to bring it back to the community because a lot of people remember me cheering here,” Benton said. “And now we’re bringing the team back home with a state championship.”
The firetrucks were waiting for the girls when they got home to Wheatland, and the bus was escorted through town, horns blaring, the sound of cheerleaders singing and cheering out bus windows and a community grateful for such a talented group of athletes that give their all for their school.