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Baldwinsville cheer competition held day after student’s death: ‘This one is for you, Ava’ (256 photos) 1/22/2023 James McClendon,

Baldwinsville’s junior varsity cheerleading team huddled together before their routine during Saturday’s Bling It On Competition at Charles W. Baker High School.

“This one is for you, Ava,” they said as they broke the huddle.

The cheer competition was held just one day after Ava Wood, a freshman on Baldwinsville’s JV soccer and modified track teams, was found dead in her home Friday morning. The school district canceled all after-school activities on Friday.

Wood, 14, was found shot dead by her father Christopher Wood, 51. Her father killed himself in an apparent murder-suicide; police are still investigating. They were found dead in two separate bedrooms, with Ava found in a bed, police said.

“It was a very emotional day,” Baldwinsville coach Cassidy Christensen said. “I know our JV athletes in particular really had heavy hearts today out on that competition floor. It was very emotional, but it was special. There was ... it’s hard to put into words how resilient those athletes were today.”

>> Ava Wood ran fast, shared her gummies, and made friends laugh: ‘Trying hard was her thing’

The competition began with a moment of silence in honor of Ava.

“The brave faces they put on and the strength they tried to exhibit just to give a good performance in memory to her name,” Christensen said. “It was a phenomenal day. I think it was really a special day, just coming together as a community and feeling the outpouring of love from our neighboring school districts.”

Christensen, who was hosting her first competition as a varsity coach, said more than $800 was raised from a 50/50 raffle that will be donated to Ava’s family. The two winners of the raffle also donated their prizes.

>> Mom of Ava Wood’s message to Central NY: Thank you for outpouring of love, support

“It really went smoothly,” she said. “I’m really proud of what our parents put together and what the athletes did today.”

Baldwinsville’s JV team placed third in the medium division behind Cicero-North Syracuse and Mexico. The varsity medium division was won by West Genesee, with Oriskany in second and C-NS in third. Baldwinsville’s varsity team did not place in the top three.

“It’s early in our season, and I know it was the first competition for us of the winter season, so it really was just about getting out there and seeing what we could put together,” Christensen said. “In the time that we’ve had, just leaving it all on the mat. So I’m very proud of what we were able to do.”

Hannibal’s varsity team won the small school division, followed by Mexico and Indian River. Syracuse Institute of Technology won the large school division, and South Jefferson placed first and Jamesville-DeWitt came in second for the co-ed division.

“The judges are looking for teams that are doing difficult skills, but then they’re also looking for teams that are executing those skills clean and sharp,” Christensen said. “Who’s hitting their skills and who is fun to watch as well. We always talk about with the cheerleaders, having facials and really showing expression on their face during the dance or during stunts just to make it entertaining to watch.”

The Bees will continue their season with the Salt City Athletic Conference Leagues at Oswego High School on Wednesday, and the C-NS Starfest next Saturday.

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