Bearing News

Cheer sparkles at state showcase

Sophomore Ellie Barnett smiles big as she prepares to begin the second part of the Bruins' routine. Barnett believes the team is ready to compete at state. "This year we have gotten better at mostly everything," Barnett said. "If we just don’t get nervous then everything we have will go [to state with us]."

Story and photos by Allie Pigg

Thursday, Nov. 29, the RBHS cheer team took its home floor before a crowd one last time before heading to the state competition at Lindenwood High School this Saturday, Dec. 1 and Sunday, Dec. 2.

Complete with sparkling eye shadow and high ponytails for the girls and ear-to-ear grins for the boys, the team used this cheer showcase to stimulate the real competition before this weekend.

“Showcase is an opportunity to mess up without having to worry about our placement,” senior captain Aubrey Sanders said. “That is extremely important when heading into a competition as important as state.”

Sanders lead the cheer team alongside her four other senior co-captains. One of these teammates, senior Anel Castro, said she is proud of the work she and the other captains have done for the team during their time at RBHS.

“I’ve felt for the past years Rock Bridge cheer has been looked down on, and this year as a group of captains we wanted to change that,” Castro said. “I had never gotten a compliment about [cheer’s performance at] an assembly and this year I got so many. That made my heart so happy.”

Hickman High School, Tolton Catholic High School and Harrisburg High School attended the showcase Thursday night to practice their routines in preparation for approaching competitions. 

RBHS cheer performed the routine they’ve been working on as a team since April.

“The routine this year is more intense than it has ever been in the history of [RBHS] cheerleading,” Sanders said. “Everyone shared the workload and there isn’t one person that does more than another. All of our hard work put together have given us a beautiful routine that I can’t wait to perform.”

Whatever outcome the team walks away with this weekend, the captains said they are grateful for the bonds the team formed and look forward to competing alongside some of their closest friends. The showcase served as a way to prove to the audience and to themselves what RBHS cheer is made of.

“I admire my team. It is the hardest working and strongest team I’ve been in,” Castro said. “We’ve had teammates quit, we’ve had others get injured, we’ve had many execute at practice those things that were once an obstacle. I have no doubt in this team, and I know that we can overcome whatever is thrown at us.”

But how did they get here

Story by Ji-Sung Lee. Video by Sarah Kuhlman.

In Washington, Mo. as the Bruin cheerleaders lined their poms and straightened their bows, the competition season was just beginning. At the regional meet Nov. 10, there were more than 20 teams competing with five in RBHS’ division. The Bruins, who competed in the small co-ed division, finished 4th overall. Advancing to the state meet, the cheer squad will compete again Dec. 2. The team has been practicing since its tryouts, which were at the end of April, junior Mikayla Morgenson said. Recently, however, the competitors have focused more heavily on putting the entire routine together, and running through it all in one setting. From the regional competition, Morgenson notes the pyramid as the team’s strength. “Everything hit, and it looked good, as well as the dance,” Morgenson said. “The motions were all very sharp which made [it] look even better.” Going into the competition, head coach Kristine Hayes said the main goal was to hit a clean routine and gain experience for the team. Hayes said more than half of the team has never competed at the varsity level, including four of the five fliers, three of whom are freshman. Having such a young team with many first-time competitors, there is a level of responsibility on upperclassmen, but Hayes said she truly could not ask for a better group of seniors.
“My five seniors have worked as a great leadership team, playing on each one’s strengths to really help our eight freshman on the varsity team find a firm foundation,” Hayes said. “[Senior] Aubrey [Sanders] is dance, [senior] Anel [Castro]  and [senior] Anna [Ostempowski] are cheer, [senior] Ethan [Hayes] is stunts and [senior] Emily [Oba] is tumbling. We recently added [senior] Haleigh [Mazuch] to our senior group and she fits right in with spirit.”
One of these freshman is Ella Bowzer, and though she has years of cheering experience, she is taking on her first season of competitive cheer as a Bruin. Bowzer said the team has held at least four practices a week, including Saturdays and extra out of school tumbling, stunting classes and open gyms. Even with the additional practices, however, injuries can be difficult to work around as the competition season begins. “I’ve been working for our first stunt sequence, and also I’ve been working for my standing tuck for regionals, but [it] got postponed by a third degree concussion,” Bowzer said. “I got [the concussion] around the beginning of the year, and I was out for over a month, [and] not allowed to do anything because I was still dizzy and confused. I lost some tumbling skills in that time, but after I was cleared I was bale to get right back into things pretty well." Despite the multitude of new members, Hayes pointed out the jumps, in addition to the pyramid, were executed well. There are little aspects of their performance that can improve the score, and Hayes said these areas include timing on some stunts and baskets. For the next performance, Morgenson’s personal goal includes getting her jumps higher and saying the cheers with more volume. “I think my main goal for the team would be to have a clean routine,” Morgenson said “With that I mean all stunts hitting, and the cheer and dance looking very sharp.” As sideline cheering for football ends, the cheerleaders enter a new phase of their season. Reflecting on the season so far, Hayes said maturity and confidence have been areas of significant growth for her athletes. “We started working choreography the end of June,” Hayes said. “Having that much time to work stuff has kept injuries down and given time to build confidence. We had a lot of personal changes lately, so I am extremely proud of how they are all coming together and working so hard.”
Video by Sarah Kuhlmann Did you know the cheerleading team had its own competition? Let us know in the comments below.

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5 comments

Alma Jarbou December 11, 2018 at 6:08 pm

This was an amazing news story! The quotes, pictures, and context really tie everything together!

Reply
Elliot B December 3, 2018 at 10:52 pm

Sometimes i forget that cheerleaders aren’t just there to cheer on teams. They compete themselves too and work very hard at it. This article shed light on that.

Reply
Ethan December 3, 2018 at 9:53 am

great story, with great context and interviews. from a kid that isn’t involved in cheer leading I didn’t know the amount of work they had put in. that is really cool to work on the same routine since march.

Reply
Deb Shore December 2, 2018 at 9:44 pm

Great article

Reply
Sarah November 30, 2018 at 7:58 pm

I love the quotes and pictures in this story, they really show how much of a team RB cheer is!

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