Nebraska cheerleader competes alone at state champs after squad quits, scores team record

Video shows the high school cheerleader performing by herself at state competition just days after teammates quit squad

Meredith Clark
New York
Thursday 02 March 2023 12:48 GMT
Nebraska cheerleader competes alone at state champs after teammates quit

A high school cheerleader from Nebraska has inspired people everywhere by competing solo in a state competition after her three teammates quit just days before the championships.

Katrina Kohel, a senior at Morrill High School in Morrill, Nebraska, took the mat alone at the Nebraska State High School Cheer and Dance Championships​​ on 17 February. Nearly two weeks before the competition, her coach – April Ott – had told Kohel that her three freshman teammates had quit the Morrill Lions Cheer squad due to personal reasons.

When Ott broke the news to Kohel, she promised they could still attend the three-day cheer and dance competition and watch from the sidelines. However, Kohel had other plans. With less than two weeks before state, Kohel learned a new routine to perform solo at the competition.

“I decided I wanted to go and still compete because I wanted to end my senior year with a bang, and I didn’t want to give up on cheerleading because it has been such a huge part of my life,” Kohel told a local Fox affiliate station.

When Kohel performed her solo routine at the Heartland Events Center in Grand Island, Nebraska, spectators instantly began to cheer for her. A video from her performance showed Kohel dancing on the mat and picking up different coloured pom-poms. Even her competitors were heard cheering for Kohel from the sidelines.

“I probably had the loudest crowd involvement there,” Kohel told the Omaha World-Herald. “Everybody was cheering with me, and it was an amazing feeling.”

Kohel admitted her mind “went blank” as soon as she started the routine, but it was the cheers from the crowd that helped her carry on. “They are going to support me and cheer me on,” she recalled thinking, per the local news outlet. “Even if I mess this whole thing up, I will be OK. I’m doing this by myself and no matter what, it’s going to be OK.”

(Courtesy of April Ott)

Although the high school senior wasn’t able to be scored the same as a complete team would have been, she did place in eighth out of the 12 squads in the Game Day Class D division – the highest her team has placed in the past three years.

Kohel’s performance marked the first time that a cheerleader had competed by herself at the Nebraska State High School Cheer and Dance Championships, according to the Omaha World-Herald.

“I feel really proud of myself for knowing I can do it and not giving up,” she said. “Just getting it done.”

(Courtesy of April Ott)

After the show-stopping performance, the Morrill Lions Cheer team praised Kohel’s determination in a Facebook post, alongside images of her solo routine.

“She did it! What an amazing routine!” the post read. “Thank you to each one of our cheer friends, family and fans far and near who packed the stands and cheered with Katrina!”

(Courtesy of April Ott)

They wrote: “The crowd was booming with callbacks on her chants and cheers!  Her jumps were soaring through the air and her school spirit was contagious.”

“You represented the MHS Lions with pride.”

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