By: Daniel Stickradt
COMPETITIVE CHEER: Top of the Charts: Rochester defends Division 1 state title
BY DAN STICKRADT
GRAND RAPIDS — Rochester’s competitive cheer team entered the season with a large turnover of talent and the season wasn’t as smooth as some of the others.
But the end result was still the same as last season, as the Falcons defended their Division 1 state championship March 3 at the DeltaPlex in Grand Rapids.
The Falcons recorded a three-round total of 789.02 points to capture their 14th MHSAA title dating back to 1994 and 19th overall state title including MCCA state championships.
“It never gets old. But I will tell you that this team really had to earn it. We lost a lot of (Athletes) from last year’s team and we had some rough moments earlier in the season,” offered Rochester coach Susan Wood, who took over the Falcons’ program back in 1982 and has guided them to state finals appearances in 33 of 36 seasons.
“I won't say that this team improved more than any other over the course of the season. All teams improve and all are different,” continued Wood. “But we graduated 13 girls last season and I think 15 the year before that. That’s a lot to lose over two years ago. We were undefeated on the JV last winter, but JV is no where near what varsity is — the level of competition, the pressure, the expectations are completely different. We really struggled with our Round III for most of this season because we had so many new girls on the team. Our degree of difficulty is high and it takes time to get it down.”
Rochester recorded rounds of 236.50, 231.82 and 320.70 — all three were top scores recorded and just barely above Sterling Heights Stevenson, the state runner-up with 787.06 points.
Grandville was third in the eight-school field (785.34), while Rochester Stoney Creek (783.10), Rochester Adams (782.66), Hudsonville (778.96), Lake Orion (778.48) and Brighton (776.22) rounded out the field.
Having three Rochester schools all at the state finals in the same year marked the first time in state history that three schools from one school district qualified for the state finals at the same time. The three Rochester schools, along with Lake Orion, also hail from the OAA Red Division. That gave the OAA four of the eight qualifiers in Division 1 — another first in state history.
“Unprecedented,” smiled Wood. In all of my years coaching, I’ve never seen anything like it where three schools from the same district make it to the state finals in the same year. And to have four of the eight (schools) from the OAA-Red at the finals speaks volumes of the talent in our area. I don't think we’ve ever had four schools from the same league at the MHSAA finals. Fifty percent of the teams from the same league — that’s incredible.”
Stoney Creek recorded rounds of 234.90, 229.30 and 318.90.
Adams, which qualified for he MHSAA state finals for the first time since 1997, countered with scores 234.10, 229.56 and 319.00.
Lake Orion posted scores of 233.40, 227.88 and 317.20, respectively.