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Pins and pompoms: Northridge High’s Whitehouse is a multi-sport maven, state champion

By Ryan Aston - | Mar 1, 2024
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Northridge High's Mikalah Whitehouse reacts after winning a 5A girls wrestling state championship in her weight class on Feb. 15, 2024, in Orem.
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Northridge High's Mikalah Whitehouse poses for her cheer photo.

On Oct. 11, 1992, Deion Sanders somehow managed to play in a regular season game for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, then rejoin his other team, Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves, for Game 5 of the National League Championship Series. In the end, though, he didn’t get onto the field for the latter contest.

In December 2023, Northridge High senior Mikalah Whitehouse channeled her inner “Prime Time” and finished the job, setting an exceedingly high bar for pulling double duty in Utah prep sports.

The dual wrestling-cheer athlete began her overlapping seasons by capturing top honors at the girls wrestling F.I.G.H.T. tournament in Farmington, and also helping the Knights’ burgeoning cheer program to top-four finishes in the advanced medium show, band chant and situational sideline events at the USA Utah Regional I competition in Bountiful — on the same day.

Both events occurred on Dec. 2, and it wasn’t simply a matter of driving from one venue to the other for Whitehouse; she was back and forth throughout the day, alternating semifinal and final-round wrestling matches with multiple cheer performances.

“I had to cheer, but then I also wanted to wrestle, so I was like, ‘Let me see if I can do both.’ And then it was a possibility, so I was like, ‘Let me just do it,'” Whitehouse matter-of-factly told the Standard-Examiner.

Recalled Kevin Kennington, Northridge’s wrestling coach: “(After the semifinal), she literally ran over, shook their coach’s hand, and ran off the mat, out into the parking lot as her mom grabbed all her stuff and followed her out the door. Went and did another cheer competition, came back, wrestled her finals match and won.”

Looking back, Whitehouse describes the day as a “blur,” a term that could probably be used to describe herself as she juggles friends, family life, athletic commitments and school, where she’s an honor student.

“She’s the modern-day Hermione Granger, with a little time-turner. She just fits it all in,” said Marley McClune, the cheerleading coach at Northridge, referencing one of the main characters in the “Harry Potter” book series.

On Feb. 15, Whitehouse won an individual state championship in her weight class at the Class 5A tournament after finishing as the runner-up last year and No. 3 overall as a sophomore.

She didn’t have long to celebrate, though.

“I’m up by points, and then I pin her, and so many emotions were going through my head, and then I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I finally won,'” she said. “Then that’s all over with, I go home and I’m packing and then I wake up the next morning and I have to get on a flight and go to California (for cheer nationals).”

As a wrestler, Whitehouse holds the school record for career takedowns with 170, and she wrapped up her prep career with a whopping 96 wins. Meanwhile, she has applied the same focus and dedication that allowed her to own the mat to her cheerleading exploits.

“Any time that we’re practicing or doing a routine, we’ll record it and then send it to the girls,” McClune explained. “She is always the first person to go in and she watches it religiously, like a football coach watches film, and just analyzes and goes over, ‘What can I fix? How can I help my fellow teammates? What can we do do get better?’ She’s always looking for the next step.”

Whitehouse isn’t immune to the stress and the pressure that comes with excelling in multiple disciplines. She and her coaches all noted that there have been hard moments while making everything happen. But the 17-year-old takes it all in stride.

“I’m kind of used to it at this point,” she said. “I kind of just cry it out and then I’m good after that.”

Perhaps the most unusual thing about everything Whitehouse does is that she doesn’t do it solely for herself. She speaks glowingly about her parents for loving and supporting her, and about her coaches for doing the same. And she strives, as much as anything, to show up for the girls who compete alongside her.

“I think it’s just my teammates mainly, because I want to do well for them,” she said.

Said McClune: “She cares so much about her sports, but she also cares so much about her teammates, too. There’s so much love and support and leadership that she offers, that I just can’t thank her enough for. Just because she’s always, always, always looking out for the person beside her.”


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