Created:Thursday, January 31, 2013 5:20 p.m.CDT
Updated:Thursday, January 31, 2013 7:50 p.m.CDT
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Cary-Grove, 4 others, headed to cheerleading state

Monica Maschak - mmaschak@shawmedia.com Cary-Grove Varisty Cheerleading Captain Sarah Mishall leads the squad in sending good vibes to the boys basketball team during a match at the school. As sectional champions, the Cary-Grove cheerleaders will advance to the IHSA State Final Championship on Friday, February 1, 2013. (Monica Maschak ())

Cary-Grove cheerleading coach Jaime Reiche understands her sport is sometimes misunderstood.

But after all the competitions and three-hour practices since July, the Trojans will make the school's first appearance at the IHSA competitive cheerleading state finals. Crystal Lake Central, which won the Fox Valley Conference Fox Division, Hampshire, Richmond-Burton and Huntley, the FVC Valley Division champ, join C-G this weekend at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.

“For us it’s a brand new experience,” Reiche said. “Everyone’s super excited. Getting the win at sectionals was huge. It’s a good first and we hope to see many more from this.”

C-G won the Large Team division at the Byron Sectional while Central was third and Huntley finished fourth . R-B was fourth and Hampshire was fifth in the Medium Team division at Byron.

The Trojans have been working on the same routine since November in preparation for this weekend. Along the way, C-G has made the necessary tweaks based on comments from judges during competitions to meet the state criteria. While the Trojans’ focus for much of the season centered on their skills, this past week they've emphasized tightness in motion, being loud and working on facial expressions – potentially the difference needed to win a state title.

"When we became a sport [about six years ago], it took a while to build up a competitive team to kind of get that message across that this is a sport and it is competitive," Reiche said. "It's not just cheering, looking pretty. It's hard work. We've been working toward this for a very long time."