Most high school teams test their prowess on a weekly basis, if not more often. But, for the Pagosa Springs High School cheerleading squad, the sole chance to compete came last weekend at the state spirit championships in Denver.
The Pirate cheerleaders placed 12th out of 24 teams in 3A cheer, ahead of fellow conference team Bayfield, which placed 16th in cheer (but placed second in 3A poms).
“I think the girls did a really, really great job,” said coach Mabel Barber of the team’s finish.
The PSHS cheerleaders on this year’s state squad are Kailey Carr, Maria Gutierrez, Savvy Murray, Steph Castillo, Tai Gallegos, Gabby Denn, Stefany Soto, Samantha Reed, Shauntel Garcia, Cheyenne Clark, Jade Hart, Larissa Turner, Sienna Taylor, Faith Heitz and Demi Pastin.
At the competition, cheer teams have two and a half minutes in front of the judges to present the team’s abilities. Of that time, one and a half minutes can be music, while at least one minute must consists of a cheer or chant.
The Pirate cheerleaders performed a dance, stunts, cheer, and a little bit of tumbling, Barber said.
“I think these girls, when it came to the performance, they gave it all they had. It was almost perfect,” Barber said. “They brought it when they had to.”
The squad began working on material for state competition over the summer, Barber said, as well as during the fall sports season in between cheering at Pirate sporting events.
“They work really hard,” Barber said. “They have to practice and try to perfect their routine for state while we’re cheering for everyone else.”
Too, Barber said the competition is different than traditional team sports in other ways — that there is no bench to pull from, with everyone involved in the routines, as well as judging being subjective, versus objectively scoring a goal, a basket or a touchdown.
Barber said the squad is improving each year and, with no seniors on the team this year, the cheerleaders hope to finish higher next year.
The squad will likely debut its dance from the state tournament at this year’s Rocky Mountain Invitational wrestling tournament in January, Barber said.