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The Panthers are set to hang their first championship banner in more than a decade, while the neighboring Hawks will hang the school’s first ever.
The Elizabethtown High School cheerleading squad was crowned state champion Saturday in the first Kentucky High School Athletic Association Competitive Cheer Championship. The LaRue County High School team was tops in its division as well.
Elizabethtown placed first in the Class 1-A large division, beating second-place Louisville Mercy and third-place Belfry High School.
LaRue County placed first in the Class 1-A medium division. Prestonsburg High School placed second and Caldwell County was placed third.
Central Hardin High School and North Hardin High School also competed in the state championships, which took place at E.A. Diddle Arena at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. Central Hardin placed ninth in the Class 2-A coed division, and North Hardin placed 13th in the Class 2-A small division.
Elizabethtown coach Joella Nall said she began to cry “tears of pure joy” when she heard the school’s name announced as the winner.
“I don’t even have words to describe it,” Nall said. “I wanted it so badly for these girls and I knew they deserved it.”
Nall said the team’s energy level in the performance was higher than she ever had seen it.
“This team left everything on that mat, just as we asked them to do,” Nall said. “They were practically flawless and you could tell they wanted it.”
This is the school’s first state championship since 2000 and the first for cheerleading. The school is celebrating the achievement with a pep rally this afternoon.
Parents and others were on hand to welcome the LaRue County team back to the high school Sunday afternoon. The win is the first KHSAA championship for LaRue County.
“Nobody will ever be able to take it away that you’re the first ever,” LaRue County coach Tara Wooden said.
Junior Emily Armes said she is proud of the team’s accomplishments. Armes cheered on the team as a middle-schooler and has gone to state with the team five times.
“We always just believed that maybe one day we could do it,” she said.
Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or firstname.lastname@example.org.