HAMLIN, W.Va. — The Lincoln County High School cheerleading squad will compete in Saturday’s state championship in Charleston after the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission decided not to appeal a circuit judge’s ruling granting the team’s appeal.
“Originally we were happy (with the judge’s ruling) but still doubtful,” cheer coach Brittany Porter said. “I am very realistic and I tried to push that to my girls and my boy that is on my team. I made sure that they knew that this is not definite, the SSAC still has a right to appeal it.
“We thought that them not appealing the case was the least likely option.”
But that’s what happened.
The case stems from a timing dispute in the regional competition. In an order issued last week, Lincoln County Circuit Judge Jay Hoke granted an injunction sought after the team finished 4th due to a 20-point timing violation penalty.
The judges at the competition said the Panthers’ routine lasted four-tenths of a second longer than the allotted time. The SSAC backed the decision made at the competition.
“I feel like a lot of people have looked at this in a negative aspect,” Porter said. “That we went over time and now are being whiny and that we even went to court over it.
“But two competitions prior, our music was fine. You put our music track into your CD player, it says 2:29. That was the issue. If we were wrong, we were wrong. But we just weren’t wrong this time.”
Music is the backbone of cheering competitions. Porter said teams practice for months with the same routine music and pay professionals to produce the routine music.
Porter added the SSAC uses stopwatches to time routines and maybe it’s time for an update.
“I don’t want cheerleading to fall to this precedent of challenges, however, I feel that sometimes, judges and the rules by the SSAC need to be held accountable as well,” she said.
“I don’t think it was a malicious act that they timed us over but it is an outdated act. Why do you need to use a stopwatch to determine how long my music is when the digital file will tell you how long it is?”
The SSAC state championship cheering competition is this weekend at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center, with eight teams in both Class A and AAA, and now nine teams in Class AA.