State champs!
Butler cheerleaders claim 2nd PIAA title in 4 seasons

By John Enrietto 
Eagle Sports Editor 

HERSHEY — Butler's cheerleaders had a couple of falls during the preliminary round of the PIAA Competitive Spirit Championships at the Giant Center over the weekend. 
Then the rest of the field fell before them. 
The Golden Tornado captured the PIAA small varsity squad title Saturday for the second time in four years, beating out runner-up Liberty (Bethlehem). 
There were 44 teams competing in the small varsity division. 
“The top six teams from prelims drew a bye into the finals,” Butler coach Marianne Miller said. “We finished first in the preliminary round despite those mistakes.” 
Saturday's final round consisted of 14 teams. 
“The fact we fell twice and still led after prelims gave us a lot of confidence,” senior Jensen Wehrli said. “We knew we could get this done. 
“It felt like we worked out all of the jitters and nervousness Friday. We came out (Saturday) and hit the routine close to perfect. All the times we've practiced it, worked on it ... We had never done that before.” 
Jillian Tilko, Annie Codispot and Alex Slomers are other seniors on the Tornado squad. Codispot and Slomers were freshmen on the Butler team that won the first-ever PIAA meet in 2013. 
Butler finished second in the state competition each of the past two years. 
“It feels amazing,” Tilko said of this year's title. I feel so blessed to be able to work with these girls. We have incredible underclassmen. 
“Our team works very well under pressure. When we had to get it done, we got it done.” 
Codispot said this year's title means more to her than the one four years ago because “everyone upped their degree of difficulty and we had to do the same. 
“We became the team to beat back then, yet we've been able to stay up there with them. To win it again is very satisfying. 
“Getting a bye straight to the finals was big. It meant one less time we had to perform the routine and it gave us more time to relax and prepare for the finals. We had pretty good vibes going in,” Codispot added. 
Upping the degree of difficulty meant that much more work. 
“This routine included much more twisting and flipping than the one four years ago,” Slomers said. “Cheerleading has become a whole new world since then.” 
And Butler remains on top of it. 
“These girls are just so focused,” Miller said. “This is a very elite kind of athlete and this is a close, cohesive team. 
“This is a family.” 
Miller said the falls that occurred during the prelims were “glitches that we fixed. 
“I was confident the girls would ultimately get the job done. This has been their goal for a very long time.” 
Following Tuesday night's home Butler boys basketball game, the cheerleaders will perform a send-off routine in the Butler gym before flying to Orlando, Fla., Thursday for the Universal Cheerleading Association (UCA) Nationals. 
They are hoping to ride the momentum of a state title into that competition. 
“Nationals are bigger with a lot more competition,” Slomers said. “Still, we know what we can do. We know we can do it better.” 
None of the three other area teams among the PIAA field — Mars, Karns City and A-C Valley — placed in their respective divisions