Cheerleaders defend State championship

Cheerleaders defend State championship

The Manitou High School cheerleading team won state for the second year in a row last weekend. The tournament took place Friday and Saturday, Dec. 8-9 at the Denver Coliseum. The Mustangs went into the tournament expecting to be well-received by the judges.

“We had hopes to perform well, but we didn’t expect first place, realistically,” said Head Coach Alice Stoneback.

In comparison to the senior-dominated team of last year, MSHS’s cheerleaders were less experienced overall. From 2011, the team had lost more than 10 members of the first champion team. Only one cheerleader, senior Essie Chandler, returned to the team from 2011.

Because of her position as the most experienced member on the squad, Chandler acted in the capacity of mentor to the team. “I guess a lot of the girls look up to me as a role model since I’m the only member of the team with four years of cheerleading experience,” said Chandler.

Photo by Rachel Sorbera

On Friday, Dec. 8, the team came out strong, qualifying for finals. The Mustangs confidently went into finals on Saturday, Dec. 9. Their performance was one of the strongest runs of the year, even though they dropped a stunt in their routine.

“I was really proud of the girls for not letting that dropped stunt affect their performance. Except for that one thing, they did everything right,” said Coach Stoneback.

After the dropped stunt, the cheerleaders’ hopes of a championship were lowered slightly, but their otherwise perfect performance managed to nab them a first place trophy. It was a welcome victory.

“It was a total surprise,” said Captain Megan Nuci.

Though the majority of the cheerleading team consisted of freshmen, the team put out a solid performance and won a second state title for Manitou cheerleading.

“The freshmen really stepped it up this year,” said Chandler. “I had a feeling we could win because they worked so hard and put in as much effort as the veterans.”

Freshman Ryan Murdock said, “It’s hard to believe, winning state as a freshman.”

Even if a state title had not been won, the girls would still have counted the season a success based off the camaraderie and friendships developed over the course of the season.

“The team is one big family that I’ve never had before,” Chandler commented. “ My team means everything to me.”

By John Christensen and Renae Musekamp