PALMETTO -- Following their Florida High School Athletic Association regional championship on Friday the Manatee High School varsity cheerleaders took first place at the 20th Annual High School Cheerleading Competition at the Manatee County Fair.
"It feels really great," senior Briana Levita said. "It will help prepare us to win states and nationals."
Lakewood Ranch High School came in second followed by Braden River High School in third and Palmetto High School in fourth place. Manatee High School junior varsity cheerleaders came in first in the JV competition and Lakewood Ranch High School junior varsity cheerleaders came in second.
Each team took turns performing a set to music on the red mat inside the fair's Mosaic Arena. Each school also shouted some of their school songs. The competition is sponsored by First American Bank who presented each team with a check to use toward future competitions.
Manatee High School coach Ashley Choate said the winnings will enable the team to pay for the bus taking it to states in Kissimmee on Jan. 30.
"It is a good chance for us to show the community our skills," Choate said. "The girls like to perform in front of their friends."
For Manatee High cheer mom Tianne Doyle, Monday's competition was a "little nerve-wracking" for her to watch. Doyle was wearing a button with her daughter Caitlin's face on it.
"They are a very competitive group," Tianne Doyle said.
"They work very hard. They are perfectionists and really dedicated. ... It is really cool that they are doing it in front of their hometown."
Lakewood Ranch High School varsity cheerleader and senior Christina Glover said she was pretty excited that her team took second after placing third last year.
"This is a good competition," she said. "I am going to miss competing at the fair."
Claire Aronson, University Parkway/Sarasota reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024 or at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.