Cheerleading: Warriors back in action after long break

The Brainerd Warriors cheer team is back in action after a 45-day break.

The Brainerd Warriors cheer team is prepared for a reboot to their 2021 season. submitted photo

COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the Brainerd Warriors cheer team season.

Because of the viral pandemic, the cheer team season was halted for 45 days, but the team is happy to be back in the gym to finish the season, said Warrior head coach Carissa Ulness.

“Typically the competition season would end mid-February after the Minnesota State Competition and the Universal Cheerleaders Association Nationals Competition in Orlando, Florida, but due to COVID, this year Warrior cheerleaders will continue their season through April.

“The State Cheerleading Competition has been moved to Feb. 27 and the UCA National Championship is now set for April 23-25.”

Brainerd posted two qualifying scores to advance to the nationals in Florida, but will compete virtually.


Also different will be the Warriors’ roster. Because of the long break and some athletes choosing to sit out the season because of COVID-19, Ulness chose to combine the varsity and junior varsity.

“This way we can focus on our varsity competition routine and varsity game-day routine,” Ulness said. “This was a decision that wasn't easy to make, but what was best for the athletes. I wanted the athletes on our team to have the opportunity to compete this season.

“Three weeks into our restarted season, if you saw us compete you would never know we added junior varsity members to the varsity team. The athletes all came together and focused on adjusting the routines to combine both teams. They worked hard the first two weeks back in the gym to adjust to the changes and compete as one team.”

SUCCESS: Cheer Team: Warriors headed to national again
For the traditional comp routine, Brainerd competes in the small coed non-tumble division. Teams can not tumble and cannot have a squad larger than 16 athletes. It also must include one to two males. Routines last 2:30 minutes with 1:30 minutes of music and one minute of cheer.

Teams are scored in three areas and they include building or stunting, cheer and overall routine.

For the game-day routine, Brainerd competes in the small non-tumble division, which consists of 15 athletes and no tumbling during the routine. Game-day routines focus on sideline cheerleading. There are four categories that are focused on during a three-minute routine. They are band chant, situation cheer, time out cheer and school song.

“Our first competition after the pause was a virtual competition hosted by Maple Grove Cheer,” Ulness said. “The varsity game day placed second and varsity coed won. Virtual competitions aren't my favorite as a coach due to the fact that our current practice space can only fit seven mats and a cheerleading competition floor has nine mats, so we are at a slight disadvantage. However, we make it work and we are very blessed to be able to compete again. We are excited for all the updates at Brainerd High School as we are looking forward to a home gym at BHS where we will be able to fit our entire competition floor of nine mats. We also look forward to being able to host cheerleading competitions.”

Brainerd’s first in-person competition will be Saturday, Jan. 30, at St. Michael-Albertville. The team is allowed two spectators per athlete during the performance.


“It's been a tough season with COVID,” Ulness said. “One of the best parts of competing at competitions is cheering on other teams and having a large crowd to perform for. This season has been tough for us all, but once again we are so thankful to be back in the gym and continue our competition season.”

OPENER: Competitive Cheer: Warriors open season with a win

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or Follow on Twitter at

Brainerd Warrior roster
Senior: Captain Kaitlynn Capistrant
Juniors: Amara Ruether, Bailey Schuler, Zach Capistrant (Stunt Captain)
Sophomores: Samina Crabtree, Eva Harvey, Breanna Frazer
Freshmen: Abby Schuler, Elizabeth Knutson
Eighth grade: Amy Iverslie, Myah Ruether, Brenna Padgette, Kiley Hart
Team manager: Zaira Winkelman
Head coach: Carissa Ulness
Assistant coach: Kassii Daiker

Jan. 30: St. Michael-Albertville
Feb. 7: Virtual Eastview High
Feb. 13: Dassel-Cokato
Feb. 14: Virtual Prior Lake
Feb. 20: Minnetonka
Feb. 27: Minnesota State Competition
April 23: Virtual UCA Nationals
Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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