When Fort Dodge Senior High School cheerleader Lexi Wilcox got tossed into the air by her teammates Saturday morning at the Triton Cheerleading Challenge at Iowa Central Community College, she had complete faith that they'd be there to cushion her return to the floor.
"I know I trust them," she said. "They don't drop me, ever."
For Wilcox, performing offers a natural high.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Fort Dodge Senior High School cheerleader Lexi Wilcox begins coming back down Saturday morning during competition in the large stunt-team division at the Triton Cheerleading Challenge held at Iowa Central Community College.
"You get an adrenaline rush," she said. "You feel like you're on top of the world."
For Julie Springer, the Fort Dodge assistant coach, the competition offers her team several things, including a chance to show off and a chance to hone the final edge onto their skills.
"We're really happy with it," she said of her team's performance. "They've come a long way in two weeks."
The honing part will come over the course of the next week as they prepare for the state competition in Des Moines Saturday. Practice is several hours a day, five days a week.
Feedback on the day's performance from the panel of judges will help show Springer what to work on.
For St. Edmond High School coach Amber Barwin, the feedback is valuable too.
"This is a good practice the week before," she said. "We'll have a week to clean everything up."
There is one other benefit for the team.
"It's building confidence." she said.
Of course, the team can't perform without two important elements, the big white letters that spell out G A E L S and Andee Barwin, 6, the unofficial team mascot and Amber Barwin's daughter.
"She's a future coach," she said. "She tells them what to do."
Logan Ulstad, a senior at Fort Dodge Senior High, has been on the FDSH team for four years.
"I've gone from basics to elite stunting," he said.
He said that six members of the cheerleading squad are male with four of those participating in the competition.
Does he get grief for participating in an activity often thought of as something for women?
"Yeah, sometimes," he said. "I ignore it, if they were in my shoes they wouldn't be doing it."
Joelle Lizer, a member of the Southeast Webster-Grand cheerleading team, was a bit sleep deprived. She'd spent the night in a cardboard box at the Think Inside the Box event to help raise awareness of homelessness.
She was dealing well with it.
"I have a lot of energy in the morning," she said.
Her goal for the day:?"Not letting my stunts fall."?
A short while later, the performance went off without a hitch - or a fall.