OAKLEAF - Ridgeview, Clay and Oakleaf high school cheerleaders won their divisions at the FHSAA Cheer Regional at Oakleaf High School on January 9, punching tickets to the FHSAA State Cheerleading …
OAKLEAF - Ridgeview, Clay and Oakleaf high school cheerleaders won their divisions at the FHSAA Cheer Regional at Oakleaf High School on January 9, punching tickets to the FHSAA State Cheerleading Championships at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland, Florida on January 22-23. The Panthers, Blue Devils and Knights will be joined by Fleming Island, Middleburg and Bishop Snyder, who earned bids to the state competition with qualifying scores.
Ridgeview won the Small Non-Tumbling Division for the second time in school history with an area-high score of 85.1. The Panthers nailed their difficult routine, which featured flyers that did roundoffs into their stunts, cupies (stunts where the bases executed one-handed lifts of their flyers), and hand-in-hands (stunts where flyers are flipped from handstands in the hands of their bases to upright positions).
“It was amazing,” said Ridgeview coach Aimee Stutz, who was a base on the 2012 squad that won the Panthers’ first regional championship. “Since we work so hard every day, it just feels great to finally hit it, especially with what [difficulty] we’ve got in it.”
Defending FHSAA State Class 1A champion Bishop Snyder took third place behind Ridgeview and runner-up Trinity Christian with a clean routine that included flyers who were in handstands on the floor when lifted into their stunts and who did full twists on their way up into stunts. Snyder Coach Angi Brannan held some of the most difficult stunts out of Saturday’s routine because Cardinals were not executing them in warm-ups.
“They are hungry and they wanted to do it all, but I did what I had to do,” said Brannan, who made clear that the main goal was to secure the bid to Lakeland. “The same thing happened last year,” a reference to the Cardinals’ fourth place finish at the regional in 2020 before winning the state title two weeks later.
Clay bested rival Fleming Island for the second consecutive competition in the Large Co-Ed Division, defeating the Golden Eagles for the title by a 1.55 point margin. Clay’s routine included Co-Ed rewinds, stunts where the flyers do back flips as they are lifted on top of the bases. The Blue Devils have only four seniors on their 23-person squad, and all six of their boys are new to cheerleading this season. Coach Lori Davis was pleased with her young charges, who executed the challenging routine with two falls and one early stunt release. “We started out strong and looked really good, but then had a problem with the pyramid at the end,” said Davis. Davis hopes to clean up the routine and nail it in Lakeland.
The Golden Eagles are taking a somewhat unorthodox tack this year, packing the cheer portion of their routine with a lot of difficulty and making every stunt a two-man stunt. Their runners-up performance Saturday was hampered by the absence of a base due to a family emergency, but coach Ryan Andrews was encouraged by the improvement shown by the Green and Gold from their performance at the UCA Regional in Tampa on December 5, 2020.
“We were pretty good, but we left some doors open,” said Andrews. “We will be fighting for a clean hit in Lakeland.”
Host Oakleaf, competing alone in the Extra Large Varsity Division, qualified for the state semifinals with a score of 62.7. The routine featured two-man hand-in-hands.
“It was pretty clean,” said Knights coach Daniel Richardson. “We had a minor mistake on the side of the pyramid.”
It was the Knights’ first competition of the season after having to withdraw from their first two scheduled events due to Covid-19 protocols. Even on Saturday, several girls were missing due to Covid-19 tracing, forcing the Knights to mark several stunts.
“It was a little stressful,” said Oakleaf coach Daniel Richardson. “Usually in the first couple competitions, you work out the kinks.”
Middleburg earned its bid to the state semifinals in the Small Varsity Division with a score of 61.1. Eleven different Broncos executed back flips, while freshman Kyla Sawdo landed a layout with a full twist. Head coach Rhiannon Weiskopf was happy.
“It was awesome,” said Middleburg head coach Rhiannon Weiskopf, who indicated that more difficulty would be added to the routine for the state semifinals. “There was one fall, but we hit things that we had not hit at the UCA Regional [on December 5].”
For the state semifinals and finals in Lakeland, schools will be separated into Classes 1A and 2A based on school enrollment. Thus, teams that competed against each other at the Oakleaf regional will not necessarily be pitted against each other in the semifinals and finals.
With a 94.8, defending FHSAA Class 1A Medium Non-Tumbling Division Champion West Nassau had the highest score of the day.
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