The Dove Creek, Dolores and Montezuma-Cortez high school cheer teams made the trip to Denver for the State Spirit Championships from Dec. 9-10.
Hosted at the Denver Coliseum, each of the three squads performed a two-and-a-half minute routine on Friday, with the top four in each division advancing to the finals on Saturday.
The Dove Creek Lady Bulldogs were the lone area team to qualify for the finals. Performing under third-year head coach Annie Stiasny in the Class 2A Cheer class, the Bulldogs scored a 65.1 in their preliminary performance, before improving in the finals.
Their final performance earned them a score of 67.5, good for fourth place and just half point away from third-place finishing Cheyenne Wells (68) and less than five points away from state champion Highland (71.7)
“Our score went up between our first and second performance, but the girls overcame a lot of different stuff,” Stiasny explained. “We had to change our routine backstage a little bit, so they pushed themselves through that and they pushed themselves to do some harder stuff the next day that they weren’t sure they could do, and then they ended up doing it.”
Team members included senior Kiera Baughman, juniors Marissa Hatfield, LaRissa Randolph, Brooklyn Kennedy and Mariah Green, sophomores Breea Meyer, Madilyn Hankins, Skyler Brill and Nadege Tibbets, and freshman Jolena Yen.
The Dolores Bears also made the trek to Denver, and for the first time ever, they competed in the Class 2A/3A Coed division.
Coached by Ashley Johnson, team members C.J. McClellan, Victoria Heman, Austin Ford, Jaidyn Ford, Renae Zwicker, Aspen Honeycutt and Laney Kocourek performed their routine on Friday to score a 53.6 in prelims.
And although they didn’t advance to the finals, they finished 10th overall.
“They did really, really good,” said Johnson. “They’re all freshman, but two, and none of them have ever been on the big mats. They’ve never been to a big competition like that, so I think they did wonderful. We’re just going to keep growing and keep getting better.”
The M-CHS cheer team had a bit more adversity in its state appearance.
Head coach Emily Martin originally planned on having 10 cheerleaders to perform at state, but her team was trimmed to six just before leaving due to ineligibility issues.
Still, team members Hunter Garlinghouse, Andrea Battle, Kristen Cox, Madi Echols, Summer Cobb and Annie Teng worked hard to put together a new routine and then performed on Friday.
“We changed our routine the Thursday that we left, learned our routine, and we went and performed it the next day,” Martin explained. “The girls did awesome. We only had one stunt that didn’t hit. They hit everything else, so it was great.”
The Colorado High School Activities Association reported that M-CHS had scored a 49.4 to finish 20th in Class 3A. However, Martin said there were issues with their score sheets that CHSAA representatives were looking into, so that may not be the final result.
M-CHS athletic director Chris Kelley said on Monday that he was still waiting to hear back from CHSAA.