The St. Joseph’s Academy cheerleaders are the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s state champions in the Large Junior Varsity Division. The squad competed in the UCA State Championship on Dec. 6 at the Monroe Civic Center.

The squad will have the opportunity to compete in the national cheerleading championships in Orlando, Florida, in February.

Squad captain, senior Mollye McManus, said her team worked hard to get there.

“We have practiced two to three times every week since September preparing for this competition,” she said. “I was extremely excited when we were announced as winners, but I was even more proud. As captain, I see how hard these ladies work at practice and how bad they want it, and that is what makes me the most proud, when we accomplish something that we’ve been working so hard at.”

McManus said she is confident going into the national championship in February.

“Honestly, I expect us to do very well,” she said. “We have a very high skill level on this team and a very good shot at placing very high. It just takes a lot of work. Even though we have not been a competitive squad for a while, I believe that we can accomplish anything we want. It will take a lot of work, but it will definitely be worth it. I am looking forward to adding harder skills and just taking our routine to the next level. I think all the girls have the mindset of winning. I could not be happier to go to nationals with this amazing and talented group of girls.”

Sophomore Annie Lorio said the experience of winning the state title was fulfilling and rewarding. “We are so appreciative of the outcome, and we are honored to have the opportunity to show our talent at Nationals.”

Freshman Adeline Holyfield was equally enthusiastic.

“State was so much fun,” she said. “We practiced a lot and worked really hard, but it was all worth it. Even though we have never competed together as a team, some of us have competed for other teams, so we kind of knew what to expect. It was a great experience to have with all of my teammates.”