The Edmonds School District has spirit, yes they do, as cheer squads from three of the district’s high school competed Saturday at the 2014 Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) State Cheerleading Championships on the campus of the University of Washington in Seattle.
The cheer teams of Meadowdale, Edmonds-Woodway and Mountlake Terrace high schools were among the 49 squads from throughout the state that qualified for the championships, held at the Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.
Meadowdale successfully defended its 2013 3A non-tumbling small/medium division championship by winning again this year. The Mavericks had also picked up championship trophies in 2010 and 2005.
Edmonds-Woodway earned a third-place finish in the 4A non-tumbling small/medium division, while Mountlake Terrace grabbed sixth place in the 3A non-tumbling small/medium competition.
For the Mavericks, anything less than a state championship would have been a letdown, confessed Coach Kimberly Berry. “At (summer) camp we do goal setting – and that’s the goal,” she said. “It’s not something we as coaches push on them, it’s ‘what do you guys want to do? What do you want our end goal to be?’ And it’s always ‘we want to win state.’”
Berry, a former high school and college cheerleader herself, saw a wide range of emotions coming from her team on Saturday. Her squad was ecstatic when their victory was announced at about 6 p.m., but earlier in the day, following a routine that did include a few minor mistakes, some on the squad had been in tears.
“It’s such a team sport. It’s literally every piece of the puzzle needs to fit for it to be successful,” she explained. “So they know how important it is for each one of them to be at their best. So if they have a fall or if they have a bobble, they know that they affected everybody else. So they take it very seriously.”
“They love each other so much, they don’t want to let each other down,” Berry added.
While the 2014 championships marked the eighth time in a row that the Mavericks had reached state, this was the first year that the squads from Edmonds-Woodway and Mountlake Terrace qualified for the event.
For the Warriors, it took a little push from Coach Bri Sturm for the team to embrace the idea of working toward a state berth. “It’s the kind of thing we’ve talked about the past couple of years,” Sturm said. “It’s always scary to be the first team to do it.”
“This year I told them we’re going to do it; we’re going to be the first team to break through. I’ve been trying to get them in that mindset for a couple of years. But again, it’s always hard to pave the road. So getting here is a big deal,” she stated.
Edmonds-Woodway almost didn’t qualify for the championships, missing out on a state berth by one point earlier in January. But the team competed in a last-chance district competition and improved their performance score by nine points, earning a spot at state.
“After that first one and not getting it, they were hungry for it,” Sturm said. “Even at practice that Monday they were ‘we don’t even want to talk about not doing this – we’re going to do it again.’”
And will E-W try to get back to the state championships in 2015? “Definitely,” Sturm exclaimed. “I think they’re hooked – I’m hooked.”
Mountlake Terrace cheer squad coach Jessica Bos hopes that the school’s first appearance at the state championships this year will lead to bigger and better things for the program there. “The girls do a lot for everyone else all year long, so this is exciting that the focus is on them,” Bos noted. “We’ve gone through so much this year and they’ve done so much good in the community this year that I can’t be more proud.”
The Hawks didn’t come out of their two-and-a-half minute performance on Saturday unscathed; sophomore Mackenzie Gardner was treated by WIAA trainers afterwards for neck and shoulder strains suffered when, on the team’s final lift, teammate Sarah Smith fell and landed on her. Gardner had an icepack wrapped to her right shoulder for 45 minutes, but later said she was OK.
Bos pointed to the experience gained from Terrace’s first trip to state as invaluable for next year’s effort to return to the event. “We know what to do now, so we’re pushing for it,” she added.
You can view all the results from the 2014 WIAA State Cheerleading Championships here.
— Story by Doug Petrowski