CRESTVIEW — A good year for Crestview High School's competitive cheerleading team can become a great year this week.
Crestview cheerleaders are heading for Kissimmee and the Silver Spur Arena for the Florida High School Athletic Association state championships.
They will compete in the Class 1A extra large team division at 5:20 p.m. local time. If the Bulldogs qualify for the finals, they would go for the state title at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
Crestview's competitive cheerleading squad is different from the spirit squad that cheers at games. Most of the spirit squad's girls also are on the competitive team, which is made up of varsity and junior varsity cheerleaders.
The Bulldog cheerleaders' only setback in the season — if you can call it a setback — was a second-place finish in the region meet to Okaloosa County rival Fort Walton Beach.
"We've won each of our competitions," Coach Nikki Sweatt said. "We won at Tallahassee, Chipola and this weekend in Panama City. We got second place in regional behind Fort Walton so we are going to change our routine a little bit and clean it up."
Sweatt said teams must compete in four meets and the region to be eligible for state.
Senior captains Lucie Bouchard, Rylee Hritz and Dominique Acol are ready for the state meet.
"It's very exciting," Bouchard said. "Our talent this year is outstanding. I'm excited to see what happens at state.
"We are very strong and work well together."
Acol dreams of bringing home a state championship.
"It would mean the world," Acol said. That's (champions) what we strive to be. We strive to be the best and I truly believe that we are best."
Hritz said the team's unity has played a big role in this year's success.
"We are all like sisters," she said. "We work together. We all love each other and it helps everything fall into place."
About the time the Bulldog cheerleaders take the floor of the arena in Kissimmee the Crestview girls basketball team will hit the court at Fort Walton Beach High School for their District 1-7A tournament semifinal game with Niceville.
Sweatt would like to see the state finals moved later in the year so the cheerleaders could cheer through the end of the basketball season.
"It's very aggravating," she said. "We've already missed a few games attending competitions and practicing for them."
Bouchard said not being able to cheer on the team is bittersweet because the Crestview girls have had a very good season.
Another reason Sweatt would like to see the state competition moved to later in the year is from a financial standpoint.
"It's right after Christmas and we are trying to raise money to go," she said. "Businesses, by this time, are given out and this year, it's been tough."
Sweatt said businesses or individuals wanting to donate can contact the school or simply send a check to the school with a notation that the money is for the cheerleaders.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Send him an email, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.