Even Cheerleaders Clash in Capital Classic - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Even Cheerleaders Clash in Capital Classic

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CHARLESTON -

How exciting it was when WVU took on Marshall on that flashy new Civic Center court and each side sweated it out to the last second, doing all they could to take down the in-state rival.

What? No, not the basketball game. That thing was over halfway through the second half.

I'm talking about the battle between the two cheerleading squads.

If that doesn't get you pumped up in a way you never thought cheerleading could, I don't know what to tell you.

The basketball teams have played each other 40 times, but this game within the game is just scratching the surface of the potential it will surely reach.

Let's review the rules.

In fact, let's not call them rules, because no one seems to follow them. Instead, we'll review its history and what it was meant to be.

"Basically what it started out as is a friendly competition between Marshall [and WVU]," says Eric Jenkins, a two-year cheerleader and the hero of this story. "It's a way for the cheerleaders to do a rivalry. What we'll do is called a partner stunt, so we have one guy and one girl hold up a stunt like this and just hold it as long as you can."

Only not every abides by those guidelines.

Two years ago, Kendra Bryant and Zack Mayes were the last Mountaineers standing while the Herd's cheerios scrambled to support the leg of their final contestant. It was an entire team against one couple, and the couple won.

That's the first time I ever saw this beautiful spectacle go down, and I was hooked ever since.

Last year, if memory serves, Marshall began with more cheerleaders suspended in the air and tried a new tactic, which involved placing multiple females at the base rather than one male. Advantage or not, the Herd won. The Mountaineers were infuriated.

At halftime on Wednesday, I met with these cheerleaders, many of whom felt the sting of defeat last season, and I told them how important it was to the WVU fans in attendance that they don't lose again. I have no actual proof that anyone would have cared, but they must have.

The cheerleaders certainly do.

"This is all we think about the whole game. This is all we care about," says Kelsey Pennington, the heroine.

Needless to say, the entire arena was anxiously waiting for the first called timeout of the half and the competition began. How Bob Huggins kept his players' attention in that huddle is beyond me.

Again Marshall sent out female forces, West Virginia took exception and fought back.

"They set out some multiple guy and multiple girl stunts, so they kind of in a way cheated there," says Jenkins.

Jenkins and Pennington held their stunt longer than any other couple. Pennington and Marshall's representative stared at each other (or so it seemed, who really knows?), trying to get in the other's head.

Pennington's leg must have been killing her and Jenkins couldn't have had any blood left in his arms, so the rest of the team came for support. Just as Pennington looked ready to topple to the floor, she found a second wind and did a nifty heel stretch that drew a large roar from the West Virginia fans (see, they do care!).

That Marshall cheerleader was amazed and dropped out. Victory to the Mountaineers.

The Herd will cry foul and claim the Mountaineers cheated. Well, sure they did, but until there is some sort of governing body in this most courageous of competitions, both sides will find ways to come out on top.

"Our coach says just to come out here, she says, ‘I don't care how you do it, just win,'" says Pennington, who did Coach Christy Davis proud. "She really wants us to win, we all want to win because we're really big rivals with them."

Pennington says the cheerleaders practice this move everyday after practice and the last time they tried it, they did held it one minute and 13 seconds. Wednesday's lasted at least a minute and a half.

Next year, there needs to be a rule limiting it to couples of one male and one female. Pennington has a message for Marshall as they begin the 360-some-day countdown until the next showdown.

"Just practice," she says. "Practice hard because we practice all the time."

"Bring it on," Marshall responds. 

"Oh, it's already been broughten," says WVU.

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