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Lexi Collum, Abbie Petree, Avery McNeill, LaDava Davis, Kaylie Lawler and Hailey Cantrell are All-American Cheerleaders from Vina who performed at the Citrus Bowl Jan. 1.

All-American: Vina cheerleaders perform at Citrus Bowl

The annual Citrus Bowl was held once again on New Year’s Day, and while the highlight for Kentucky was a win over Penn State, the highlight for Franklin County was the six cheerleaders from Vina High School who participated in the pre-game show.

Coached by teacher Brittany Pannell, six Red Devil girls were chosen to be All-American Cheerleaders at their Universal Cheerleaders Association camp in July. This honor led them to be able to participate in the pre-game show of the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla., Jan. 1.

“It’s a big honor. I’m so proud of them,” Pannell said.

Getting to this point was no easy task, though, according to Pannell. The girls held fundraisers to be able to go to camp over the summer, and they had to hold fundraisers once the school year started to be able to make the trip to Florida.

“They worked really hard. It was a lifetime experience,” Pannell said.

Hailey Cantrell, one of the captains of the squad, agreed it was a lot of hard work, but it was worth it in the end.

The girls stayed at the Disney resort, and while they had some free time to go exploring, they still spent at least four hours a day practicing the routine that they would perform with hundreds of other cheerleaders on the field.

“It was a difficult routine with a lot of ripples and having to get everyone in sync,” Cantrell said.

The overall experience was a positive one said Cantrell. She said performing before such a big game with so many other cheerleaders was a bit intimidating, but once they got to know the other girls, it was fun.

Pannell said the opportunity was an honor not just for the cheerleaders but for Vina as a whole.