Cheerleaders Place First at League Competition

Aubrey Hall, Photography Editor

All were abuzz with anticipation on the evening of December 1, when cheerleaders and fans alike congregated in the new gym of Manitou Springs High School for the annual 3A Tri-Peaks League competition. This was the first time in three years that Manitou has hosted the event.

After weeks of early morning practices, injuries, and last-minute substitutions, the cheer team was feeling the pressure. “I think there’s a lot of added pressure on us,” said Mahalia Henschel (12). “We are not only the reigning state champions, but the reigning league champions, and it’s our house, so I think the pressure to step up and be the best we can is definitely there.”

Competing as a co-ed team this year was the team that has arguably been Manitou’s biggest competition in the past: St. Mary’s. After an awkward trophy exchange caused by a miscalculation at last year’s competition, this appeared to be a welcome change for many Manitou fans. After all co-ed teams had completed their routines, it was time for the all-female division to compete. Proceeding several other schools, Manitou took to the mat and performed their routine.

According to Ryan Murdock (12), who had sustained an injury prior to the event and could later be seen limping off the mat, the week leading up to the competition had been the most difficult so far this season. “I am satisfied with how the routine went considering the circumstances,” said Murdock, “but I know that we can push to be even better.”

As the judges calculated the final scores, the cheerleaders gathered in one large circle on the mat for a competition tradition that involved singing and dancing. After several minutes of this, each team gathered together on the mat and nervously awaited the results. Manitou cheerleaders could be seen holding hands in hopes of placing first for the second consecutive year.

The first results to be announced were those pertaining to co-ed teams, in which St. Mary’s placed first. After this, it was announced that Manitou had placed first in the all-female division. The cheerleaders leapt out of their seats and embraced one another, cheering and celebrating as Ryan Murdock (12) and Mackenzie Randolph (11) ran to retrieve the trophy.

After the winning teams had been given their respective awards, several cheerleaders from each team were announced to be on the All Conference team. The cheerleaders from Manitou that were named All Conference were Mahalia Henschel (12), Ryan Murdock (12), Kelsey Hartwig (12) and honorable mention Devon Arabia (12). Watching these four perform at League for the last time as high schoolers was a rather tough moment for coordinator of the event and past Manitou cheer coach, Alice Stoneback.

“They [this year’s senior cheerleaders] were freshmen on the team the last year that I coached,” said Stoneback, “So it’s been kind of a bittersweet year to watch them all grown up, but I’m really proud they could take home a win tonight.”

According to Mahalia Henschel (12), the team has a couple things to work on before the upcoming state competition. “I think once you reach satisfaction that’s kind of a scary point,” said Henschel, “So I’m never really satisfied. I think that we have a lot of improvements to make and I think that everybody on the team knows that. We all came off that mat knowing that we have a lot of room to grow. After the week we had, we were all so exhausted, so the fact that we were able to pull that out was something that I was very proud of, but I do think that we still have a lot of room for improvement.”

This year’s state competition will take place on December 11 and 12 at the Denver Coliseum.