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Sarah Unruh ’12

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Bethel to host conference cheer invitational

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College will host the 2016 Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) Cheerleading Invitational Feb. 12 in Thresher Gym.

Doors open at 4 p.m. and competition begins at 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and non-Bethel students, available at the door. Bethel students and children age 5 and under are free.

All KCAC schools are eligible to compete in the invitational. In addition to Bethel, those scheduled to participate are Kansas Wesleyan University, Sterling College, Tabor College and University of St. Mary.

The Bethel students involved will be seniors Sondra Buller, Will Chao, Erin Doerksen, Mikayla Hiebert, Jennifer Schrag, Renae Stucky and Amy Wedel, junior Justin Haflich, sophomores Kendra Gonzales, Garrett Lindley and Veronica Ziegler, and freshmen Whitney Danbury, Lily Funk, SkyLa O’Neal, Nathaniel Ortega-Torres and Bailey Strausz.

Both cheerleading and dance will be judged.

“The judges are selected by a panel of coaches called the Games Committee,” said Bethel cheer coach Joseph Gogus. “There will be three dance judges and three cheer judges, plus a deduction judge for both cheer and dance.

“In cheer, the score is based on a 100-point scale, with a six-part rubric that scores skills in stunting, pyramids, basket tosses, jumps, standing tumbling and running tumbling.

“In dance, the score is also based on a 100-point scale and [the] skill rubric includes leaps, turns, technical skill and technique of various dance styles.”

The Bethel cheerleaders have been training since August. They practice Monday through Friday, about 2 1/2 hours a day.

So far, the competition team has put more than 100 hours into the choreography for a performance that lasts two minutes and 15 seconds.

They will have put in more than 400 hours of practice time on the routine by the time they go to regional competition, Feb. 19 at Oklahoma City University.

“These students put a lot of time and effort into these performances and are very supportive of each other,” Gogus said. “They cheer for each other even though they are competing against each other. This usually stems from a mutual respect of the sport.”

Gogus anticipates that the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) will complete the process of recognizing cheer as an intercollegiate sport in the upcoming season.

Some of Bethel’s cheer student-athletes will try out for KCAC All-Star status – the equivalent of conference All-America recognition in other sports.

“We are a favorite to win [the KCAC Invitational] this year,” Gogus said. “If so, it will be the first time in school history that Bethel College cheerleading has won the conference event.”

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2015-16 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2015-16. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

In sports, Bethel competes within the 11-school KCAC, and the NAIA. For more information, see

Bethel College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, parental or marital status, gender identity, gender expression, medical or genetic information, ethnic or national origins, citizenship status, veteran or military status or disability. E-mail questions to

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