The Costa Mesa High cheerleaders earned sixth place for their division in the world and sixth in nation at the National High School Cheerleaders Championship in Orlando, Fla.

The Costa Mesa High cheerleaders earned sixth place for their division in the world and sixth in nation at the National High School Cheerleaders Championship in Orlando, Fla. (Courtesy of Kori Johnson / February 12, 2013)

Cheer can be intense.

There are other levels than high school. College, of course, and pros. The Laker girls are celebrities.

There is also club cheerleading. Scott Bruce, who I knew in high school, has three daughters ages, 11, 9 and 7, who compete for the Orange County-based California All-Stars. He's well aware of the hard work that goes into cheerleading.

"There are not many high school athletes who would be able to complete one of their workouts," Bruce said.

Johnson knows plenty about cheerleading and coaching. She was recently named a national coach of the year by Cheerobics, which annually honors the best with its Cheer Coach of the Year Awards. Johnson was the winner of the inaugural "community" coach of the year award.

Johnson was a cheerleader at Costa Mesa High, where she lettered three years and was the team captain as a senior. She also ran track for the Mustangs.

She came back to coach the team at her alma mater eight years ago, when the program was in shambles. The program was heading toward being eliminated at the school.

Costa Mesa has now become a highly respected program among the best cheerleading teams in the nation and reached unprecedented heights in the program's history.

"It's to the point that now other teams are fearful of us and they say, 'oh my God, they are good,'" Johnson said. "It's so great to do well and hold our own with teams at the nationals. It's so great to see where we have come from to where we are now."

The CMHS cheerleaders actually improved from last year, when they finished 13th at the nationals and committed a few costly drops.

This year, there were no drops. They brought it. They want to go back and place higher next year, Johnson said.

The Costa Mesa cheerleaders are: Seniors Courtney Hatch, Alyssa Dasca, Taylor Jones, Natalie Fowler, Jordan Weir, Lexi Stroman, Megan Settles, Emily Strodel, Adriana Rodriguez and Selena Arreola; Juniors Alyssa Lopez, Laura Vaigious, Mckenzie Soldin, Jazzy Jaime, Olivia LeValley and Allie Ross; Sophomores Shannon McCormick, Rachel Keane, Karly Brumbaugh, Frankie Bertella, Alexis Dasca, Alexis Lomeli, Lea Mitani and Ellie Aguilar; Freshmen Kate Piatti, Andrea Ross and Paige La Bare.

steve.virgen@latimes.com

Twitter: @SteveVirgen