EAST WENATCHEE — The Eastmont Varsity Cheer Squad is heading to State Friday morning with hopes of winning a state title. Their route to State started back in December with a State Competition Qualifier.
Eastmont was competing in the coed category at that first competition. They finished first in their category, qualifying for State right out of the gate. They had a great score out of the five teams competing.
The team went to another two competitions in January at Moses Lake and Hanford.
“In those competitions, we suddenly found ourselves having to compete in a different category than we had originally qualified for because we had lost a few athletes,” said Eastmont Cheer Coach Jeni Gann. “So all of a sudden, we didn’t qualify for what we had originally done and had to re-qualify in order to even go to State.”
Eastmont was no longer coed. They had two guys and lost one. State rules say you must have at least two boys to be coed. Since they had only one guy, Eastmont had to requalify for State.
“All the hard work of qualifying for State the first time was gone. We had to fix our groups and change our routine. They really pulled together,” Gann said. “They changed their routine with two days’ notice and qualified that weekend.”
Eastmont was now in the large 4A category. It’s called “all girls” but it can include one guy. The Wildcats competed three times, finishing first each time, although in one competition they were the only large team, so they were first by default. But their scores improved every single time.
“That was the testament of these kids’ hard work was putting the judge’s critiques to work and improving their score consistently every week,” she said.
Eastmont will leave for State on Friday morning with the competition slated for Saturday at Battleground, Washington near Vancouver. There are three other teams in the large division. All the teams qualified withing a point of one another, Gann said.
“We sitting right in the middle with our score with the other two teams we are up against. We’ll see what happens. They are big-name schools. Hopefully, they can pull it out and get first place and state title,” Gann said.
Last year, Eastmont made it to State but they came down with an illness the morning of State so they had to completely rework the routine 30-minutes before they put it on the floor.
“We had a girl that got sick the morning of State and we had to change everything. This year, the team has been really motivated. The fought to come back and they really want to come on stronger. We were really strong last year. The stuff they are doing this year is much stronger than I’ve ever seen before,” Gann said.
Gann said the team is cautiously confident. They are confident in themselves and what they know how to do. At this point, they’ve done the routine “a million” times, she said.
Cheerleading is subjective. It’s all the judge’s opinion. Was it clean? Was it sharp?
“It’s not like ice skating where you have to do this skill, this skill, and this skill and that gives you a certain score. This involves, was the stunt clean? Did it stay on top? Did it wobble? Was that person’s arm sharp? Do they have energy?” Gann said. “They are confident in what they know how to do. Now, it’s making sure everything lines up and we have that perfect moment when everything falls into place.”
There are some stellar teams in the 4A category, multiple time state winner Skyline and Steilacoom, a state champion last year in the 2A/3A category. Gann said they are big schools with veteran coaches and lots of experience.
There will be a sendoff for the team at 9 a.m. Friday at Eastmont. They compete Saturday at 12:15 p.m. with awards that night.