By: Daniel Stickradt
COMPETITIVE CHEER: Notre Dame Prep wins fourth straight Division 3 state title
BY DAN STICKRADT
GRAND RAPIDS — Pontiac Notre Dame Prep proved that you just have to save your best for last.
After finishing behind top-ranked Richmond at the regionals one week before, the Fighting Irish put it all together on the season’s final day and defended their Division 3 state championship March 4 at the DeltaPlex in Grand Rapids.
Notre Dame Prep collected 781.56 points to edge Richmond’s 779.12 points. It marked the school’s fourth straight state title in the sport after finishing in the runner-up slot in 2013.
“We knew that it would be close. We felt that if we had a very good day that we could beat Richmond,” offered Notre Dame Prep fifth-year coach Beth Campbell. “Based on scores this year, I knew that it would go down to us and Richmond. We didn't have a very good regional — made some mistakes. But we worked hard to fix those mistakes and not have penalties. The girls stepped up.”
At the regional, Richmond finished nearly seven points ahead of Notre Dame Prep (775.24-768.82). At the district round, Richmond finished some 25 points ahead of the Irish (783.82-758.8).
Monroe Jefferson, which actually had the top Round III score of 316.50, finished a distant third overall with 772.6 points. Comstock Park (767.34), Flat Rock (761.46), Lake Odessa Lakewood (756.62), Paw Paw (752.84) and Howard City Tri-County (748.58) rounded out the field.
Notre Dame Prep had the top two scores in Round I and Round II, collecting 235.30 and 230.36, respectively. Richmond posted scores of 234.20 and 230.22 to remain in second place entering the third round.
Notre Dame Prep had the second-highest total in Round III at 315.90, while Richmond claimed third in the round at 314.70 — not enough to overcome.
“I’m so proud of the girls. They saved it all for the state finals,” said Campbell, whose team won six invitationals this season and never finished outside of the top five. “To win a state title is really difficult. To go out and defend your title and beat a team that defeated you one week before at the regionals is a great accomplishment. The girls stepped up. We came a long way from the district competition to the state finals. The girls proved that their hard work paid off.”