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Morris cheerleaders hope routine refined for State

One year removed from missing out on the IHSA state finals for the first time in school history, the Morris competitive cheerleading squad has found its way back to Champaign for this Friday's performance.

With a little help from a friend, the Redskins are hoping the routine they have executed "a million times" since September will pay dividends.

So just how many times has the team performed its current routine?

"I think probably seven times in front of people and a million times at practice," Morris senior captain Sydney Christensen said.

While the actual number of times the team has performed it in practice is debatable, Morris coach Kristin Sanders did confirm how many times the girls have performed live.

"We've done six competitions and once in front of our crowd," she said.

The current routine the team does was helped by a choreographer that Sanders brought in at the start of the season.

"We had a choreographer come in by the name of Jared Erlenbaugh. He's a friend of a friend," Sanders said. "He watched and assessed our abilities — how our stunting was and how our tumbling was. From there he helped map out the routine and we put it together how it was needed."

That set in motion the countless number of times the team has worked to improve it.

"We do the same routine each time, though we do sometimes make alterations to it to make it better," Morris senior captain Samantha Ehret  said. "But mostly it's the same set routine every time."

"We've made a lot of changes," Christensen said. "We try to clean it up a lot every week."

That was a point of emphasis for Sanders as the team prepares for this weekend's trip to perform at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.

"Focus. The girls need to clean it up this week," Sanders said. "We're not going to make any changes. Kind of clean up and get more consistent and we should be good to go."

One of the nice things about working so long and hard together is the kind of bonding that takes place according to the captains.

"I think we all enjoy our bonding time before we perform," Ehret said. "All we talk about is how ready we are and how excited we are. We all like to be around each other and we are excited about this weekend."

"I feel like we've all come together and become a family," Christensen said. "Every day at practice we all learn something new about each other. We've all grown to love things about each other."

In an effort to once again be ready for the big stage.

"I think we're ready," Ehret said. "I think we need to hit the routine hard this week at practice but I think we're ready for it."

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