Layna Dewell, News9.com
STILLWATER, Oklahoma – For hundreds of high school cheerleaders, the first weekend in October has been circled on their calendars for months.
That weekend, after months and months of preparation, the teams had their chance to show off their skills at the 2011 OSSAA State Cheer Championships on the campus of Oklahoma State University.
Nearly 110 teams competed for their chance at one of seven state championship titles.
At the end of the competition, two teams took home their first-ever state titles and five others added first place finishes to their trophy cases, all capping off a long season of hard work.
|2011 OSSAA Cheerleading State Championships|
Class 3A's Lincoln Christian High School and 4A's Mount St. Mary High School both earned their first cheerleading state title in each school's history.
The first place finish was a huge accomplishment for Lincoln Christian who has only had a cheer squad for two years now.
"Last year was our first year to ever compete so to win a State Championship our second year meant the world to us," said senior captain Bailey Newman.
"I thought it was a dream. It couldn't be real. I had to really ask myself if the announcer was serious," said sophomore Madi Simmons.
The Bulldogs went head-to-head against 12 other schools at state this year and scored eight points higher than Washington to take first place. Lincoln Christian also won first place at this year's regional competition and received the Distinguished Academic Achievement Award for their 3.5 or higher cumulative grade point average. Head coach Laurie Law was also awarded the Coach's Achievement Award at this year's state competition.
Mount St. Mary moved up to class 4A this year because of the OSSAA's new public vs. private ruling. Regardless of what class they're in, the Rockets have been striving for a state title since coach Jessica Stiles began coaching there six years ago.
"Six years ago when I came into the MSM cheerleading program, I stepped into a program that had little involvement and little to no competitive experience," said Stiles. "It has taken six years of hard work, but I am so proud to say that we have finally gotten to that competitive, state championship level."
The Rockets were up against 18 other teams in their class and outscored Bristow by four points to win it all.
The remaining state championship titles were awarded to: Hominy High School in class 2A, Deer Creek in 5A, Union in 6A and Keys was named the small co-ed state winner while Choctaw took home the large co-ed title.
For the Hominy Bucks, it was all about hard work and dedication. The 10-member squad competed against 17 other teams and tallied a score of 240 points to take home the title.
"This year we knew it was going to be tough (because) we graduated two main bases and a back spot," said Hominy junior Katie Walker. "Before going to camp (in July) I don't think any one of us expected to win a state title. With the help of cheering mats (it's our first year to have mats, Coach Maschelle Bobbitt, Oney Perrin who choreographed our cheer, our parents and our fans, we won state and some Buck Pride."
The Bucks were also named regional champions and were honored with the Distinguished Academic Achievement plaque for their achievement in the classroom. The team had a minimum of a 3.5 cumulative GPA last semester and ranked in the top 10 percent of Class 2A.
"In cheerleading you can practice all you want and prepare but it all comes down to that minute and half performance," said Hominy senior Emily Hartman. "The feeling I got when we won was indescribable, I think anybody who has won a state title like this knows what I'm talking about. But, I can say it was nice to know that everything my team and I did-- whether it was from getting up early, staying up late, or getting hurt-- that all the stress would add up to a state championship."
For the Deer Creek Antlers this is their second title in three years, and the school's third overall title. They competed against 19 other teams and scored one point higher than Harrah to take home the state championship.
"This team truly exceeded everyone's expectations," said Deer Creek coach Carrie Keller. "Our goal for the weekend was just to place top four and do our best, but these girls put in the work and delivered on Saturday and truly deserved the title."
"I've never felt so prepared and confident about a routine," said senior Deer Creek co-captain Skylar Hamilton. "It wasn't just about hitting a routine, we knew we could do that, it was about performing and giving it everything. Winning state my senior year definitely made it one to remember. All of our hard work since June definitely paid off."
"God was with us the whole day, right by our side. He watched over us, kept us safe, and gave us a chance. Besides our amazing, talented, and inspirational coach, we couldn't have been this successful without our God," said sophomore Ashlyn Steele.
In class 6A the Union Redskins, who won a regional championship this season, scored 281 points to take home their third overall, and second in five years. At the state finals they competed against 15 other teams to win the title.
"We had exceptional leadership from our eight seniors," said Union coach Cat Weeden.
Weeden, along with coach Stacey Beams both said the special thing about this team is that they are truly a family on and off the floor.
"Our girls aimed for perfection and pushed themselves to execute an amazing routine. They pay attention to detail and work as a team on the floor," said Weeden and Beams.
In the co-ed divisions 10 teams competed in the small co-ed division while 18 teams competed in the large co-ed category and both of this year's title winners have won multiple consecutive cheer titles.
Keys, who won their regional competition earlier in the season outscored Newcastle by 10 points to earn its second straight first place finish and its third in the past four years.
"There aren't enough words to explain the feeling you get when you work so hard for something and it finally pays off," said Keys senior Cheere Walker.
"You have to work together as a team," said senior Sarah Horner. "This is the closest our team has ever been and it really paid off."
"Some people are better at stunts, others at jumps, and some are strong in tumbling. It takes everyone on the team to be a champion," said senior Kyle Nolan.
Choctaw took home its fourth straight the large co-ed title with 281 points, which was 18 points higher than second place finisher Broken Arrow.
"It feels so great to win your 4th state title with a group of amazing boys and girls who all wanted and worked so hard towards the same goal," said Choctaw senior Brooke Bradshaw.
"It feels great to win but it felt so much better knowing that all of us were trying and having fun on the mat as a family," said senior Macaulay Poole. "I could not ask for a better team or coaches."
"It was the most Amazing feeling and I wouldn't ask for a better team to be with" said senior Jessica Bearden. "This is the best experience I could ask for and I'm so glad to be a part of the 4-peat family"
No matter the class, no matter the point total these boys and girls spent countless hours on the mat practicing and all that paid off in the end.
It was a weekend so many cheerleaders and coaches across the state looked forward to all season, and the memories will no doubt last them a lifetime.
To see the full list of results for the 2011 OSSAA State Cheerleading Championships click here.