Mepham cheering to the top


Mepham High School’s varsity and junior varsity cheerleading squads dominated a number of competitions in recent weeks. Varsity coach Ashley Yunker and junior varsity coach Michelle Spinelli touted the accomplishments of their squads.

“Each competition, they blow me away,” Yunker said.

Of the 29 girls on the varsity team, 17 are seniors, according to Yunker.

“I’m going to be really sad to lose them,” she noted.

The girls placed first at regionals on Dec. 2, which qualified them for nationals. At the event, held in Florida on Feb. 10, they placed 11th among 25 teams in the varsity division nationwide.

Even though the varsity team did not make it into the finals at nationals, they did qualify for counties, Yunker said. She hopes the team will move up, adding that Mepham varsity will need to beat East Meadow and Massapequa at counties to continue on.

“They’ve had a wonderful season,” Yunker said. “I couldn’t be more proud.”

There are 28 girls on the JV team, which is composed of freshman and sophomores, according to Spinelli. The girls started with little cheerleading experience, so their season began with them cheering at football games.

In November, the JV team held tryouts and added some more girls and a boy to the team, Spinelli said. During the winter season, the JV team competed in five competitions, placing first in three and second in two.

“They placed first three weeks in a row in January, which was really awesome,” Spinelli said. “They’ve learned so many skills that they really didn’t have in the fall season.”

The girls made it to the semifinals at nationals, according to Spinelli. “Watching the girls perform was, like, the best thing for me,” she said. “Seeing all of their work being showcased in their best way, that was kind of amazing as a coach to watch.”

Spinelli said the best competition the girls had was one on Jan. 13 at MacArthur High School in Levittown. “The girls really put out a clean routine that day, and it was one of their more difficult routines that they preformed,” Spinelli said.

This was Spinelli’s first year coaching cheerleading, and she wants to continue working with the girls. “I wasn’t expecting to have this much success being my first year and also a lot of these girls’ first times on the mat,” she said. “They really worked very hard, and they practiced four days a week, so it was a lot . . . The hard work paid off.”

Spinelli said the girls have all grown as cheerleaders and are prepared for varsity level.

“I’m definitely proud of them,” she said. “I think the progress from the beginning to now is just unreal . . . The skills that they walked in with basic compared to what they are doing now, they’re new cheerleaders. These girls are amazing now.”