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Cheer stunts to third place

The varsity cheer squad placed third out of 14 schools in the Small Varsity Division at the 27th annual California Cheer Championships at Magic Mountain on Feb. 25.

?The girls finally got recognition for their abilities,? Katie Mendenhall, varsity cheer coach, said. ?The FC team is top notch. They have worked hard this year.?

After placing eighth at the Fellowship of Christian Cheerleaders national competition in January, the girls continued to perfect their routine in hopes of placing high at Magic Mountain.

?We made the routine harder and that contributed to our higher placement,? Mendenhall said. ?The stunt combinations were more difficult and I think that made a difference. Especially compared to our performance at Nationals.?

The team took on new stunt combinations such as twists, gymnastics and longer one-legged two positions to improve their routine.

?I think we did a great job overall,? Christie Belden, senior captain, ?06, said. ?We really stepped up challenge-wise this year and put in a lot more effort for our competitions.?

In addition to a nearly flawless routine, the team?s energy seemed to contribute to their placement.

?I knew we had a chance to be in the top three because of the girls? clean, energetic, high performance level,? Mendenhall said. ?The girls sold the routine and the audience got involved. This is a highly skilled team.?

Performance was not the only contribution to the girls? placement.

?This year has been 100 times better that the last,? Barbara Krikorian, ?07, said. ?Our squad is the most dedicated group of girls I have ever worked with. They show up to practice with 101 degree temperatures, pulled muscles and exhaustion.”

Junior flyer Heather Neel agreed with Krikorian and while the team was a little shaky to start, they made up for it with a strong performance.

“I had a million things running through my head and was heart was beating extremely fast,” Neal said. “After that initial wobble, everyone was determined to make up for it. We gave it all we had and accomplished what we set out to do. I am really proud fo the squad’s determination and loyalty.”

This year’s squad improved over the 2004/05 team and it showed through the commitment to practice despite personal agendas.

?Coming to practice every day has made a huge difference in the strength and ability of our team. Last year we would never have dreamed of making it all the way to Nationals and then placing third at Magic Mountain.?

Despite the girls’ winning performance, the squad plans on improving their routine in hopes of placing higher in next year’s competitions.

?We plan on adding more stunts to next year?s routine to put us in a position to win first,? Mendenhall said. ?I know our girls can do that. Judges look for routines packed with stunts. We just need to add more. The level of difficulty is not the problem. We will choreograph these new stunts but not at the expense of the dance elements.?

The junior varsity team also competed and finished fourth out of eight squads in their division. The varsity cheer squad will next compete in the Clovis West Open on March 4 starting at 8 A.M.

For more information on the national competition in Florida, read the Jan. 11 article ?Cheer places 8th at Nationals,? by Brianna Stobbe.

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