By: John Raffel
Competitive cheer teams eye return to state finals
By John Raffel
The area continues to boast outstanding competitive cheer competition and this season is likely to be no different.
DeWitt placed sixth in Division 2, Lakewood was fifth and Charlotte sixth in Division 3 and Sanford Meridian was second, Merrill fourth, Farwell fifth and Pewamo-Westphalia eighth in Division 4.
Merrill coach Molly Garno was upbeat over her team’s 2018 performance.
“They went out there and had three solid rounds,” Garno said. “I couldn’t be prouder. We absolutely exceeded expectations for the season. We came across a lot of battles and they overcame them time after time.”
“We’re graduating four seniors who will be missed. But we have talent coming up. We hope to keep the Merrill tradition strong.”
P-W is a perennial cheer power and was eighth last year. But coach Staci Myers could have a special team again this season.
Myers’ team won the title in 2008 and 2010 and had runner-up finishes in 2007, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015.
In March, the Pirates took eighth out of eight teams in the Division 4 meet, but Myers was upbeat with what her young team was able to accomplish.
The only P-W senior was Karson Hengesbach.
“They did amazing,” Myers, in her 11th year as coach, said. “We came in here hoping they could do their best rounds one, two and three and where the chips fall, they do. We worked hard this season and made huge transformations with this young team.”
Charlotte coach Yvonne Ridge saw her team take sixth in Division 2 in 2017 and sixth in Division 3 last year. It could be a banner 2019.
“We did awesome,” Ridge said after the 2018 state meet. “It’s our first year in Division 3. They brought the energy and did a great job. We’ll be stronger next year. We have 10 freshmen on our team and only one senior.”
Seniors are Mackenzie Bleisch, Mady Conklin, Charis Demello, Karlie Hicks, Morgan Seavolt and Lauren Wietzke. Juniors are Erica Brock, Kenzie Galinis, Haley Hoyt, Zaraya Newth, Christeny Pena and Lynsey Peters. Sophomores were Alaysha Cannon, Sadie Earegood, Sydney Foster, Ellie Lundy, Macy Mauk, Maggie Miller, Julia Phillips, McKenna Sine, Megan Treadwell and Kaylynn Weaver.
Lakewood has enjoyed strong success including last season at state.
“I thought we had three solid rounds,” Viking coach Kim Martin said. “You want to finish on a big note and this is the best finish we’ve had at the state finals, the best placing. Before, we’ve never finished higher than sixth place. This was the fifth out of the last six years. We’ve been here a few times and it’s our best performance with a very young team.”