Watching Plainview High School senior Arielle Sauer twist through the air and lead the Indians supporters in cheer during basketball, football and wrestling matches is a sight that many Plainview fans have gotten to see first-hand over the last four years.
Next Tuesday afternoon at Jenks High School, Sauer will once again be cheerleading. No, she won’t be cheering on any of the Plainview teams to victory. She seeks a victory of her own. She is one of 64 cheerleaders who will look to earn one of 16 spots on the West All-State cheerleading team.
The thought of going through the process to earn a tryout for the all-state hadn’t crossed her mind until after the start of this school year.
“Really, I just heard about it a few weeks before the competition, and I was like, ‘Yeah, sure, I’ll try it,’” Sauer said.
The Oklahoma Cheerleading Coaches Association has a standard process in place for becoming an All-State cheerleader. Coaches from each school can nominate as many as three seniors. Those cheerleaders performed in one of eight regionals where they were all judged on six criteria: cheer, voice, showmanship, jumps, standing tumbling and running tumbling.
One of 37 cheerleaders to compete at the Region 5 event at Washington High School on Oct. 25, Sauer placed in the top 16 to earn an automatic tryout at state. Her placing was unavailable at press time Thursday.
The OCCA stipulates that the top finisher from each classification — Classes 2A, 3A, 4A, 5A and 6A — and the next 11 top point scorers automatically advance to state.
Class 4A had the most number of state qualifiers with 10, followed by three from 6A and one each from 5A, 2A and 1A.
“The state tryout will somewhat be the same as the all-region one,” Sauer said. “You just do your cheer. You do your jumps and your tumbling.”
Plainview cheerleading coach Wendy Russell said 18 cheerleaders tried out in the 4A division compared to two each in 2A, 3A and 5A.
“4A is always the toughest bracket, really, in any sport,” she said. “They’re not the biggest schools. They’re not Edmond and Edmond North and Westmoore and Jenks and Union and Bixby. They’re not the big dogs. They’re very high competitive. It’s tough to win football. It’s tough to win anything in that bracket.”
Sauer is counting on her 12 years of experience as a gymnast to help her succeed in Jenks. She didn’t take up cheerleading until her freshman season when she moved to Ardmore from Mexico. Sauer trains most days during the summer and cheered for Plainview when it competed in the team state meet for the first time in late September.
“She’s very dedicated, very dedicated, even with her background in gymnastics and her ability and her athleticism and her all-around sport, she’s very gifted,” Russell said. “She has wanted to try out for OU. She’s going to OU clinics in another week. She goes to tumbling clinics.”
Should Sauer finished in the top 16 she will become the first cheerleader for Plainview to earn all-state accolades.
“It would definitely mean a lot to me, especially confidence-wide, going into OU tryouts,” she said. “I feel like I can make that. With that many girls trying out, I feel like OU will be a lot easier for me mentally.
“But, yeah, it would be awesome, because nobody has every done it. I would get to say that I would be on the first (Plainview) squad to make it to state and I would be the first cheerleader here to all-state on my own. It would be a heck of a senior year.”