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PSU Cheerleading to begin second varsity season

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State University varsity cheerleading team makes its 2007-08 debut this weekend when the Panthers perform at the home women's basketball tournament at Foley Gymnasium.

            The Panthers will compete in a series of cheerleading tournaments next semester and will perform at all PSU home men's and women's basketball games this season.  The first appearances are this Friday evening (5:30 p.m.) and Saturday afternoon (1:00 or 3:00 p.m.) at the Days Inn of Campton Women's Basketball Tip-Off Tournament.

            Some of the key tournaments the team will compete in are the Universal Cheerleading Association College Nationals in Orlando, Fla., the New Hampshire State competition in Durham, the New England Open Championships in Connecticut, and the American Cheerleading Association's College Nationals in Myrtle Beach.  The Panthers finished runner-up at the Open College Nationals last March.

            Plymouth State has had a cheerleading team for many years, and is now in its second year as a varsity sport.  The Panthers are led by head coach Carrie Kiley (right), who is now in her eighth season heading up the program.  The captains of this year's team are juniors Erica Barnhart (Nashua, N.H./Nashua South) and Ashley Smith (West Barnstable, Mass. /Barnstable).

            "The girls are excited about this year, coming off last year's runner-up at the Open College Nationals," said Kiley.  "We'll be competing on an even larger national stage this year.  We're expecting big things out of these ladies."

            The other returning veterans on the squad are juniors Ashley Neagle (Chester, N.H./Pinkerton) and Steph Koyianis (Manchester, N.H./West) and sophomores Jess Chaves (Sunapee, N.H.), Ashley Hutchinson (Danvers, Mass.), Shea Jarosz (Epping, N.H.), and Erin Vogt (Dedham, Mass.)

            "We're very young this year with more than 10 freshmen, but the new girls come with a lot of tumbling experience," said Kiley.  "It's an outstanding freshman class; they bring in so much experience and they're eager to learn the new style of college cheerleading. They've stepped up to the challenge and they're catching on."

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