Fresno High School cheer squad making history

Thursday, January 28, 2016
Fresno High School cheer squad making history
Fresno High has a new competition cheer squad and for the first time they've qualified for nationals.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno High has a new competition cheer squad and for the first time they've qualified for nationals.

Fresno High School's cheer squad has been building momentum the last several years. This year, with a schedule packed full of competitions, they've already received statewide praise. They won an unexpected first place at their very first cheer competition earlier this month. "We knew from their performance they did great. We thought they would place, we didn't know how they would place," said Jacqueline Ruiz, Pep and Cheer Director.

"They announced the other two team names and then they announced Fresno High as first and we all kind of looked at each other, and looked over our shoulders at coaches, and said we just got first! And we just got all types of crazy," said Audra Martens, junior.

The win meant the squad qualified for cheerleading's USA nationals for the first time. With the competition in Anaheim now on the horizon, the team is now practicing harder than ever. "I've been on cheer all four years, this is my last year. So, to be able to go to nationals and represent Fresno High in this way-- it's so amazing," said Pepper Friesen, senior.

The squad is fine-tuning their routine while also fundraising for the big competition. They've started a GoFundMe page to raise $10,000 to help pay for registration costs, hotels, food, and transportation. Ruiz said the students are deserving of this big opportunity. Practicing tosses, throws, and other elite stunts to help them stand out. "Cheer is the type of sport where you learn a new skill, you fail, fail, fail, fail, fail, and then you get the skill and so it takes a lot of strength to push that, but once they learn a new skill it's so exciting and you see the joy on their faces-- it's so exciting."

"We wear the city's name across our chest, so to be able to go out and represent Fresno and Fresno High in a really positive aspect by doing what we love-- we're all doing something we love doing, that we're dedicated with, and to be able to do that is such an honor for us," said Friesen.

Fresno High's cheer squad is now practicing more than six hours a week to prepare for nationals. Their goal-- to place in the finals.