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Members of the cheerleading team perform a routine at the Homecoming assembly Oct. 12. The RBHS football team chose Leukemia as the cause for the 2018 game. The cheerleaders wore orange matching shirts in awareness. Photo by Grace Hervey.

Cheerleading competes at regionals, prepares for state

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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