BATTLE GROUND — The Eastmont cheer squad came into the State finals last Saturday with hopes of winning a state title. Even though they performed a nearly flawless routine the 4A Large Non-Tumble category, it was not enough to win it all.
The Wildcats finished in third with 59 points. Steilacoom, which won last year in the 2A/3A category, was the champion with 73.5 points. Skyline was second with 64.5 points.
“We had a couple ‘oops’ in our routine that didn’t go the way we wanted. But all in all, the team felt when they walked off the mat, they had given absolutely everything they had. They didn’t regret a single thing,” Eastmont Cheer Coach Jeni Gann.
Gann said you can never account for the unexpected fall but it definitely went really well for the team. The team felt they had worked so hard on everything all season, it was worth it.
Last year, Eastmont had to change their routine at the last moment when a team member was sick.
“We didn’t have any illnesses this time. Last year, we had that sickness happen the morning of State. This year, everyone was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. We made it through the routine,” Gann said. “Everything was good.”
Interestingly, nearly half the team came down with colds after the event, sort of like they were holding it back so as not to affect the team.
Gann said the girls did not have as long with some of their skills and changes they had to make when they had to requalify, due to dropping from the coed category.
“That was the only thing that might have set them back a little bit. They were really strong going into it and had a great, positive mindset and said they wanted to go for it all. They sure did,” she said.
Eastmont has two skills come down. Gann said there is a difference between coming down and falling, where you hit the mat.
“Coming down just means they went up and didn’t stay up there. We had two skills come down, but outside of that, everything else was amazing,” Gann said. “The second half of their routine was flawless. It was beautiful. They absolutely killed their cheer and dance and their pyramid. All in all, it was pretty good.”
Going into the competition, all the teams were within a half-point of each other with their qualifier scores. Gann said they were with the best of the best.
“Even making it to State is such an honor in itself because not every school that goes to qualifiers makes it,” she said. “In my third year of coaching, two years in a row going to State is a testament to the hard work and dedication. We were just honored to be able to go.”
There are a few things they learned from their second trip to State they will definitely put into their routine next time, she said.
Cheer is always evolving.
“Sometimes things happen. There was nothing to blame. It can happen. You can have something that you’ve never messed up on once before and all of sudden a hand is in the wrong spot. Or nerves can definitely get to you as well,” Gann said.
For next year, Gann said there are some lessons well learned.
“We definitely had a go big or go home kind of mentality. I think there is a fine line that will take next year. Go big, but also go clean,” she said.