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Ipswich-Newburyport cheerleaders head for US meet

At cheerleader practice, Kristina Markos works on the routine with other girls on the team.
At cheerleader practice, Kristina Markos works on the routine with other girls on the team.Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

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AMESBURY — When their daughter signed up for cheerleading, Newburyport parents Bill and Stephanie Crepeau thought Emma might carry pom-poms at a few youth football games. They had no idea how competitive cheerleading has become.

By the time Emma’s team of third- and fourth-grade girls traveled to Boston in November for the annual New England Cheer and Dance Championship, the Crepeaus were hooked.

“I was blown away by the whole show, the pomp and circumstance,” recalled Emma’s father.

The Ipswich-Newburyport Tigers will travel alongside an “A” team of Newburyport seventh- and eighth-graders to the National High School Cheerleading Championship at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., in February, which coaches refer to as the “Super Bowl of cheerleading.” Cheering, they say, has grown far beyond its traditional role in support of other athletes – the boys – into a competitive sport all its own.

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