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Panther Cheerleaders warming up for tournament time

PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The season is over for Plymouth State University's men's and women's basketball teams, but the varsity cheerleading squad is gearing up for a new campaign.

The Panther cheerleaders, led by seventh-year head coach Carrie Kiley, are enjoying their first season as a varsity program at PSU. The team has performed at home men's and women's basketball games all winter, and now prepares for competing in spirit competitions.

The Panthers will warm up with two exhibition performances this weekend - Friday at the Plymouth Elementary School Winter Carnival, and Sunday at the New Hampshire State competition in Durham.

"These are excellent opportunities for our team to perform in front of a crowd, and practice our routines," said Kiley. "It's great for the sport of cheerleading in general, and prepares our team for the competitions."

Notable competitions for the Panthers this year include the New England Open College Championships in Connecticut on March 3rd, and the American Cheerleading Association's College Nationals in Myrtle Beach on March 17th.

Plymouth State has had a cheerleading team for many years, and several years ago it became an affiliate member of the athletic program. The Panther squad was elevated to a varsity program in February 2006, effective with the 2006-07 season.

"We been working hard since the fall on conditioning, stunts, tumbling and basic cheers and dances," said Coach Kiley. "We also have weekly gymnastics instruction. These ladies are strong college student-athletes and it's been a pleasure working with them. We're looking forward to performing in the next month."

The Panthers are a squad of 22, led by seniors Haley Lebuff (Newburyport, Mass.), Debbie Richardson (Maynard, Mass.) and Caitlin MacInnis (Hooksett, N.H./Central).

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