By Randi Pierce
The Pagosa Springs High School cheer team took to the stage at the World Arena in Colorado Springs on March 25 to take part in the state spirit championships.
The Pirate squad took sixth in the 2A/3A Co-ed event at the championships, which are typically held in Denver in December, but were rescheduled and moved due to COVID-19.
“This year’s performance at state went very well. Every single person on the team blew me away with the amount of passion they put into their performance. There are so many highlights when competing, but the overall number one highlight would most likely be the aftermath of the performance itself. The excitement of walking off the mat after hitting every stunt is phenomenal. The team felt very proud of themselves after the event, as they should!” coach Emma Casaceli wrote in an email to The SUN.
Casaceli explained that, in a typical year, the team would work two to three months on the routine before the competition, but a concussion by one of the team’s members right before the competition left the coach rewriting the routine about two weeks before the team left for the event.
The Pirates scored 56.25 raw points in the event, but were dinged with 22 points in deductions, leaving them with 34.25 total points.
Coal Ridge sailed to victory in the event with 79.70 total points and were followed by Bayfield with 63.85 total points. Stratton took third with 59.35 total points, Manitou Springs took fourth with 57.85 total points, and Platte Canyon took fifth with 41.45 total points.
“When competing at state there are many factors that make up a routine,” Casaceli wrote. “We have approximately one minute and fifteen seconds of music. During that time we perform a jump sequence, a dance, a pyramid (connecting stunts), stunts, and tumbling. We then have about a one minute section in which we perform a cheer. In that section we tumble, stunt, and cheer mainly focusing on leading the crowd by using props (signs, megaphones, and sometimes flags). Judges typically look for an overall clean routine. That means motions are tight, everyone knows their parts, no stunts are dropped, basically making a hard routine look effortless. They also score you [on] the difficulty of stunts, tumbling, and how well you lead the crowd.”
The event, however, the coach noted, was held without general admission, meaning the crowd for the Pirates consisted of only the team’s family members.
“Though there were many changes, it allowed our team to gain a new learning experience,” Casaceli wrote.
This year’s state squad comprises Bella Clark, Madeline Stewart, Gracelyn Kiker, Mariah Hill, Jazmin Mendoza, Chelsea Casaceli, Jessi Gurule, Kelsi Rollins, Kelsey Britton, Hannah Rockensock, Madeline Baker and Vini Carranza.
Casaceli noted that she anticipates everyone on the team will return next year.
She added, “I anticipate that everyone on this team will return next year. Next season, I am most looking forward to working with the returners and new members in order to create a highly successful cheering season!”