Choteau cheerleaders

The Choteau cheer squad members and coach are, from left: (back) Logan Wearley, Kyle Spargur, Parker Passmore, Tyler Evensen, Coach Julie Shepherd; (middle) Anne Rice, Paige Shepherd, Chloe Hanusa, Lacey Garrett, Marisa Gonzalez, Jessica Weist; (front) Adrienne Murphy, Morgan McKay, McKenna LaValley, Emily Gonzalez and Sara Hawley. The squad poses with the first-place trophy it won in Lewistown last weekend. Photo courtesy CHS

Taking part in a competitive event for the first time, the Bulldog cheer squad on March 16 won the first-place trophy for Class B teams at a cheer squad competition in Lewistown.

Choteau competed with Columbus, Colstrip, Sweet Grass, Three Forks, Roundup and Malta. Overall there were cheer squads from 13 schools competing.

Cheer team Coach Julie Shepherd said competitive cheer is not a Montana High School Association-sanctioned event because there is no state tournament for cheer, but Montana high schools hold two major cheer competitions each year, one of which is at Fergus County High School in Lewistown.

Shepherd said 15 members of her 20-member cheer squad volunteered to take part in this competition after the regular season ended in early March. They practiced two hours a day for seven days to learn a new routine and perfect it for the competition, which included cheer, dance and stunting.

“For learning the routine in seven days, they did incredibly,” Shepherd said.

Because this was not an MHSA-sanctioned event, Choteau High School did not fund the cost of the trip. The cheer program raised its own funds to go to Lewistown for the competition, Shepherd said.

The cheer season is divided into a fall season from August to November and a winter season from November until March. Students can compete in both seasons if they wish, Shepherd said, and this year there were 10 in the fall season, nine of whom carried over into the winter season. Many of the cheer team members cheered from August until March.

Cheer team members practice two hours a day for four days a week and cheer at varsity football, volleyball, and boys and girls basketball games. On game days, the cheer squad has to be ready two hours before the game for an hour of warm-up and then typically cheers for up to four hours, depending on the game schedule.

The cheer squad also works in the concession stands during the volleyball and football games. At wrestling meets, the squad presents the colors and dances, and at the Choteau Classic squad members present the awards to the winning wrestlers.

The cheer squad also attends the senior nights for all sports, makes posters and locker signs, organizes pep assemblies and does other things for almost all sports and activities. This year, the squad has also hosted two cheer clinics for the community and younger students, choreographed a dance number for the high school play, and performed an opening number for the play.