By: John Raffel
Meridian cheerleaders hope to be state contenders
The 2017-18 competitive season was a virtual dream for Sanford Meridian coach Val MacKenzie and her athletes, who placed second in the Division 4 finals.
“Our 2017-18 was an awesome season,” MacKenzie said. “It was the best in all my coaching years. Our Round 2 was the highest scoring round of all Division 4 teams the whole season. A top score of 225.34. Our highest score the whole season for all three rounds was 757.60 at Harrison’s Cheer at the Hive.”
Meridian won a district and regional trophy, along with the runner-up trophy.
“We did not have anyone graduate this past season,” MacKenzie said. “We are returning with the same girls with two added freshman. In 2016, we were at state competition and taking fourth when we had seven freshman and three seniors. Those freshman are now seniors.”
Meridian has some key performers back on the team.
“Key players this year will be seniors McKenna Burns, Katie Blanchard and Tana Spangler,” MacKenzie said. “They are in all 3 rounds. McKenna and Katie have awesome jumps, great tumbling, and are strong bases. Tana has been in all three rounds and is an excellent flyer. Junior Dalaynie O’Hare is also in all three rounds. She has a great voice and jumps. Her tumbling is strong, and she is one of the best back spots on the team.”
Junior Lexy North and sophomore Jade McRoberts are also key athletes with their tumbling and jumps, MacKenzie indicated.
“Jade is an excellent flyer and Lexi is a great base and does some flying also,” MacKenzie said.
Also on the team are seniors Aubrey Erskine, Liz Melchi and Becky O’Dell, juniors Tirzah Doud, Jacqueline Poston and Libby Wildfong; sophomore Summer Storms and freshman Tori Luptowski and Alivia Morgan.
“They are very much assets to this team,” MacKenzie said. “They are all very dedicated and hard working. I expect this team to be very successful. They have had a taste of a successful ending and are working hard to make it there again, only this time one step higher as state champions. They are determined with their goals and strive hard to meet them. They are all dedicated to the ending goal. What happens between now and districts, regionals, and state is just practice to the stepping stone of the winners circle.”
When asked what are things her team can work on, MacKenzie replied: “Change, change is to make things better. Expect it and make it better. Voice and facials that will sell those changes to improve the rounds. We always have good rounds but the girls need to present it better with cheer attitude.”
Right now, Meridian is focusing on a league title.
“With only four teams in the Jack Pine that have competitive cheer, our league is not big,” MacKenzie said. “We have had a strong showing at state for the last few years from the Jack Pine with being represented there by Meridian, Farwell and Houghton Lake. When you ask who are the league favorites this year, I do believe Farwell and Houghton Lake are in a rebuilding status this year. Harrison has numbers this year from what I understand and are looking at better season. Meridian has the same team with a lot of the same team members. I am hoping we can win the conference but you never know what can happen.”