Essex, Rappahannock advance to region cheer competition

Posted on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 3:16 pm

On the night of Oct. 16, the 2013 Tidewater District Invitational Cheer competition gave local cheerleaders a chance to bring it on.

The Essex High School Competition Cheer Team will advance to the regional competition on Oct. 29 at James River High School. They will join Rappahannock also from Conference 40.

The Essex High School Competition Cheer Team will advance to the regional competition on Oct. 29 at James River High School. They will join Rappahannock also from Conference 40.

The Rappahannock High School Competition Cheer Team will advance to the regional competition on Oct. 29 at James River High School. They will join Essex also from Conference 40.

The Rappahannock High School Competition Cheer Team will advance to the regional competition on Oct. 29 at James River High School. They will join Essex also from Conference 40.

To say the cheer squads ‘bring it on’ seemed fitting, as the moves these teams performed in the King William High School gym seemed to have been pulled straight out of the cheer movie Bring it On.

It has been several years since my cheer days and clearly the skills of the squads in those years have improved drastically. Having flyers twist in a dismount and a few members tumble across the floor appears to be basic moves. Now, flyers are flipping into lifts and entire squads are doing back handsprings. Anyone who still thinks cheerleading isn’t a sport should have been there for Wednesday night’s competition.

There was a new alignment for the cheer competition this year that really impacted Single A cheerleading squads. There were not enough competition cheerleading teams in 1A, both east and west, so the VHSL decided to merge those teams with 2A. This was necessary as based on Virginia High School League rules for classification championship you have to have at least 50 percent or more of schools competing, and the 1A division did not. Of the three newly formed conferences, there were differing numbers of teams participating,  so it was determined that each conference would send all but two teams to the regional competition.

Competing in Wednesday night’s competition were, in order of performance, the West Point Pointers, Essex Trojans, Middlesex Chargers, Bruton Panthers, W&L Eagles, Rappahannock Raiders and King William Cavaliers. All of the teams gave great performances and showed that a lot of hard work had gone into creating, practicing and perfecting their routines. With a sharp and advanced routine, the King William Cavaliers took home the first place trophy. Also taking home a trophy, the Bruton Panthers won second place. Both of these teams will move on to the regional competition. In third place, moving on to regionals as well, was the Essex Trojans. Following the decision to send all but two teams to the regional competition, Rappahannock and Middlesex will also be competing at regionals.

The Essex cheer squad was a shining star in this competition from the moment they hit the mat. As the second team to perform in the competition, they definitely set the bar high. Essex head coach is Nicole Syster and assistant coaches are Nicole Davis, Tyanna Brooks, and Lex Henry. The Trojan squad had 20 members this year with three alternates.

Of their performance at the competition Syster said that nerves were their biggest obstacle, along with struggling to stick some of their stunts solidly which impact ed their overall score. However, they still earned some of the highest scores in years. Syster says they are learning from their mistakes and have already begun preparing for regionals. Their motto this year has been “Hit it, Stick it, Believe it.”

The team knows they need a solid routine and no mistakes in order to make it to state this year.

“I am confident my girls will perform and execute the best routine they can. It will be tough not having a huge crowd base to travel with us, but I do think all the squads representing Conference 40 will really support each other at James River High School” Syster said.

Richmond County High school’s 2013 Football/Competition Team had 19 members this year including seven returning 2012 competition team members. Captains Haley Allen, 10th, Kelly Brann, 12th, and co-captions Morgan Straughan, 10th and Vicky Davis, 10th led their team to fourth place in the competition and a place in the regional competition. Tiffany Rombold has been the head varsity coach with Allison Trigger by her side as assistant coach at RHS for three years.

For these coaches it was there second year competing. Last year they had six girls named to the All-District team and two girls named to the region tournament, missing a chance at state by only 20 points. While most of this year’s team is in 9th and 10th and have never cheered before, Rombold assures that they can perform varsity level stunts and their performance at the competition definitely confirmed this assurance. “I’m extremely proud of them and all of their hard work.”

The Cavaliers, Panthers, Trojans and Raiders will be competing in regionals on Oct. 29 at James River High School in Buchanan. The VHSL State Competition is at VCU on Nov. 9.

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