The Oak Ridge High School cheer squad traveled to San Marcos’s Texas State University to compete in the UCA Southwest Texas State Championships this past weekend and came back to the Ridge in possession of the 1st place banner!!! You read that correctly – Oak Ridge Cheer=STATE CHAMPIONS!
With an intense two and a half minute routine that included standing/running tumbling, jumps, dance, basket tosses, pyramids and a cheer section with signs, poms (pompoms back in the day) and megaphones, the girls were very clean and didn’t drop any stunts.
What is even more amazing is the Tuesday before the championships, Coach Sarah Parker had to pull a “flyer” in Reagan Gibbs. Losing the talented Gibbs was a huge loss. The squad does have alternates but not included among the alternates is a flyer. Coach Parker had to bring up freshman Nicole Traylor, teach her the routine on Thursday morning, and then go through the routine on Thursday afternoon so Nicole could be ready to perform in front of the whole student body at the Friday pep rally. Well, Nicole did great, didn’t skip a beat, and made zero mistakes. For a cheer athlete, it takes months to mentally and physically prepare yourself for competitions like this championship and the frosh did not let her team down.
Captains are Kayla VonArb, Kaelin Dryer, Taylor Eastin, and Hannah Diller. These four athletes as well as all of the seniors have been excellent examples in leading the squad on the floor.
Head Coach Sarah Parker is assisted by freshman coach,Courtney Currie and JV coach Sarah Mayfield. Ms. Parker, who is sometimes just a little outspoken, will take it from here in this Oak Ridge Now Q&A:
How did the team qualify for the Championships in New Braunfels?
Two competitions lead up to the UCA Southwest Texas State Championships….the UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship-Regionals and State. We took both this year.
What stood out for your squad the most that you think separated yourselves from everyone else?
We were very clean and one of the few teams to not drop any stunts. The routine we used we have been working on since August and the hard work paid off. We wowed the crowd with our skills. Many teams dropped (fell) during their stunt sequence or ending pyramid. Mostly, we were able to stand out because of our skill level and flawless routine. This was some of the best teamwork I’ve ever seen and the video.
Take a look at the video: Oak Ridge Cheer State Championship performance
What type of floor was used for the competition?
Dead floor. It’s against safety rules for a high school team to compete on a “spring” floor.
Oak Ridge was not picked to win this competition by the so called cheer guru’s. After Oak Ridge received the hardware, what was the reaction around the arena?
Many UCA staff members came up to me afterwards, remembering us from camp and previous years and they could not believe how good we were. There were two teams that were shooting for us and expected to beat us, but we took them by surprise. Of course, It wasn’t a surprise to us.
How did your sub-varsity squad’s do?
Our JV and Freshmen placed fourth and for it being their first time competing at State, that is very respectable.
Was there a mascot competition? If so, how did your mascot do?
Kareem Thompson, our mascot pulled third out of twelve. That was the first mascot competition for him as well as for Oak Ridge High School. Kareem did an amazing job and he even surprised us with his routine.
What is next for these athletes?
Our next stop is Nationals. We are a realistic team, so our number one goal is to make it to finals. There could be over 40 teams in our division and to make it to finals would be our ultimate dream. So far, we are undefeated. Nationals will have us head to head with multiple national champion schools and we are praying we just do our best.
Any further comments, Coach Parker?
As a team, the girls decided to come up to the school on Saturdays to put in more hours to make sure they were all ready for State. After a solid performance in front of the school Friday, the girls feel that they earned some well deserved respect. After we won State on Sunday, I was elated with the amount of support from the student body who believed in us. We’ve had some really great teams here but what set this team apart from the others is that we were like a family and everyone got along great. These girls were willing to go the extra mile to get where they wanted to be. We are finally getting our name out there and schools from other states are starting to contact us for help and information. As for me personally, I’m not out there on the floor and will take no credit but I do feel as if everything I’ve fought and worked for is finally paying off. I’m extremely proud to work for Oak Ridge and Mr. Johnson and I appreciate him entrusting me with this important position. Our next stop is Nationals.
Coach Parker said the team will proudly display the championship banner in the gym.
SW Texas UCA Regionals: 1st Place… Check
Cheer Power Christmas: 1st Place… Check
SW Texas UCA State: 1st Place… Check
UCA Nationals: Feb 7-11: ?????????????????
Go get’em girls (and you too, Kareem)!
Comments to Doug Sarant at Doug@oakridgenow.com
Photos below courtesy of Jim Eastin.