Featured Athlete: Makenzie Sichelstiel

Joy Xu

Urbana’s cheerleading team has done big things this season, and senior Makenzie Sichelstiel has been a contributing factor. Sichelstiel has done cheer for three years at this school since arriving as a sophomore, though she has been cheerleading for an impressive total of twelve years.

“When I was in kindergarten, a kid brought around a flier, and I thought it looked really cool,” Sichelstiel said. This flier, which provided information about cheerleading, sparked her interest and launched a long and fruitful passion in the sport that has led Sichelstiel to becoming the seasoned athlete she is today.

Of course, it hasn’t always been easy. “Cheerleading is a lot of hard work,” said Sichelstiel. “Sometimes when you don’t hit your stunts, it’s really frustrating, and you have to work really hard to get the skills you need.”

However, Sichelstiel’s teammates help to make up for these struggles. “I love the team that we have,” she said. “It’s really fun to hang out together at practices and games.”

There are many challenging stunts in cheerleading, but Sichelstiel’s personal favorite is the full up to heel stretch. This move is done by holding one leg in the same side hand above the cheerleader’s head. Since it is completed on one foot, the heel stretch requires a lot of hip strength, stability, and balance, making it difficult but something Sichelstiel enjoys doing.

This year, the Varsity Cheer team placed fourth at the 2016 Invitational Competition, which is the kickoff to cheer competition season. The team also placed third at the County Competition at Urbana High School and even made it to the regional level, which is no small feat.

“It was really cool,” said Sichelstiel about competing at Regionals. “I’d never gotten to experience it before, so it was fun to do it my senior year.” The team placed fourteenth, creating a lasting memory for Sichelstiel before she graduates at the end of this year.

All in all, Sichelstiel is a hardworking athlete who has put in the time and effort to perfect her craft. When faced with the possibility of continuing to cheer after high school and beyond, Sichelstiel said, “I want to!” No matter where Sichelstiel ends up, she can rest assured that this desire will likely be fulfilled.