BELVIDERE, Ill. (WIFR) To some, cheerleading may just be another after-school activity. But for some of those at Belvidere North, cheer is a way of life. The Blue Thunder won their sixth straight co-ed division sectional title and are looking to enter rarefied air this weekend in Bloomington.
North is one of four local teams (Harlem, North Boone and Stillman Valley the others) back in the gym this week preparing for the state tournament. The Blue Thunder have a chance to win their fourth straight state championship.
North could become just the third cheer squad to win four or more consecutive state titles and the first to do it since 2013. Head coach Lacee Sattelberg has seen the rise of the Blue Thunder as a powerhouse in competitive cheerleading, winning state all three years she has led the program.
Sattelberg also knows one mistake can make or break another title opportunity.
"I think that this year, there is no room for error," said Sattelberg. "Because that competition is so much more fierce in our division. The past few years, we've had kind of a point spread in taking first place by, one year I think it was four points, one year it was two points."
"So this year, the teams that we have beat or have beat us, we've all been in a cycle and it's been by tenths. So there's really no room for error this year and I think that is why it's so much more stressful."
Less than two weeks ago, North won its ninth consecutive NIC-10 championship. On Saturday at sectionals, the team scored a 96.07, its best score of the season. Sattelberg believes the team is peaking at the right time.
"Our slogan has been, the last two years, is to "Beat the Tradition, Not the Competition". So we just want to be better than we were last year. That's all that we can ask for and that's all we're hoping to be."