ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) Winning three of the last four Big Northern titles, Lutheran cheerleading is thinking much bigger this weekend as it competes down at state.
Despite the fourth place finish in 2017, the girls believe their revamped routine should lead them to gold.
Typically the ones who would lead the cheers at a pep rally, the Crusaders received one of their own Thursday morning before leaving for their fourth straight appearance in Bloomington.
Last season was Lutheran's best finish, which was accompanied by the team sportsmanship award.
For the group of seven seniors who have been there before, they say their experience should pay off and hopefully with a state championship.
"Last year, we knew we had a good chance of winning and we ended up getting fourth so that was good, but this year, because we got fourth, we have such a bigger drive and everyone is a lot more confident and we're excited," said Mia Scalise.
"I feel a lot more prepared this year," said Morgan Garnhart. "We've been going really hard on our routine and we all have more skills this year and we know what we're going into. We know how it feels to get fourth so we want to go back and win."
The crusaders have already picked up titles at the BNC and sectional competitions and they believe with their new routine, they will be hard to stop.
"This year is exactly what they wanted," said head coach Billie Makeever. "They worked with our choreographer to make it their own and they love their music, they love the dance and they love the other components. I think they're owning it and I think that's why we're doing so well."
"It's pretty difficult," Scalise said. "When we first got it, we were a bit hesitant because it was really hard, but we've been so conditioned for it and prepared that this has been my favorite routine that we've done all four years and I think everyone agrees with us and I think we're ready."