One of the few moments that Riverside-Brookfield High School seniors Elli Christiansen and Olivia Glawe were physically together during their sophomore competitive cheerleading season is their most memorable.
The 2021 IHSA state series was completely virtual because of COVID-19. After submitting their video routine for sectionals, RBHS coach Madelyn Dall posted on their group chat that the Bulldogs qualified for the Class 2A state finals.
“I think half of our team was hanging out and one person saw the message. We all just screamed, cheered,” Christiansen said.
The Bulldogs are hoping to actually make this year’s trip to the state finals with a smaller but talented lineup.
Other team members are seniors Chloe Alexander and Grace Pankros; sophomores Maya Gonzalez, Sofia Lee and Anna Pinnick; and freshmen Aubrey Agne, Isabella Kirsch, Sofia Miller, Liliana Nieto and Emelia Royer.
“I just feel like we’re really motivated to work together and really work hard and put in the effort,” Glawe said.
The 2021 Bulldogs also made history by finishing a program-best eighth (86.56) in their fourth state appearance, three of them coached by Dall. They qualified with a top-six qualifying berth at sectionals (3rd, 83.83) after winning conference. Last year’s team finished 12th at their 2A Geneva Sectional (78.17).
“I would say state is the goal, kind of the culmination,” Dall said. “I think the motivation, the grit to get through every practice every day [is our key to success], if the want is there, if they’re willing to put in the work to make it happen.”
All four seniors and Lee return from last season’s lineup. Christiansen is the lone fourth-year postseason competitor. Alexander also was on the 2021 competition roster but an injury kept her from postseason routines.
The Bulldogs plan to compete with 10. Christiansen said the competition roster is smaller than roughly 14 her previous three seasons.
“It’s harder to do cool visual formations, because we don’t have as many people but with the smaller amount of people it’s easier to clean the routine and make sure everyone’s doing the same thing,” Christiansen said.
“We definitely have a lot of cool skills that we haven’t had in the past. Our team ability level has definitely gone up and I think we also have a pretty strong emotion as we dance, a strong connection to the song.”