Kasson-Mantorville cheerleading team heads to nationals for the first time

(ABC 6 News) – History has been made for the Kasson-Mantorville competition cheerleading team.

They are heading to nationals for the first time in program history.

Head coach Nikki Andrist and the girls still say it’s surreal.

"They drive it. The girls drive the whole need and want to get better. They bring new skills in, they want to try new skills at all times. They are the driving force, they are the reason they’re going to nationals," Andrist said.

Andrist said the team made it a goal back in March to make it to nationals this year. They were the only small team in their division to get a bid back in October.

"I asked the team I said ‘What is your goal for this coming year?’ and they said they wanted to go to nationals and I was like ‘Well, then we have a lot of work to do,’ and we went right to it," Andrist said.

"Yeah, it’s really crazy. I never thought that our small team of 10 people would ever go to nationals," senior captain Taylor Bauer said.

The Komets will be competing against bigger schools from bigger cities.

They say what makes this season special isn’t how they started it, but how they’re ending it.

After 21 years coaching the team, it’s Andrist’s last year.

"We’re going to go out with a bang this year. Right on top," she said.

"It’s very surreal," senior captain Aleya White said.

Not only is it Andrist’s last season with the team, but it’s also the last year for the three senior captains.

"A great memory to have when you go off," senior captain Annika Hofstad said. "And with us not being a sport at Kasson, we want to prove that we can be a sport. So we want to do the best that we can down at nationals."

"Because we do put in the work and I think we do deserve it," White added.

The girls say they are just excited to go compete in Orlando in February.

"It doesn’t matter what place we get, I’m just so excited that we got to go," Hofstad said.

"It’s really just, we’re grateful enough for the experience and we’re just going to go there, have fun, try our best," White added.

They say what makes this year different is their bonding. They’re like sisters.

"It’s crazy we’re all like one big happy family… Most of the time," Bauer said.

Cheerleading is not a school-funded activity at Kasson-Mantorville so the team has been fundraising themselves. They’ve set up a GoFundMe and have been working Bingo nights and having bake sales.