Contributed photo/Beverly Nañez
The Dalles cheer team racked up 183.9 points to capture first place at the Cavalier Cheer Invitational held last Saturday in Clackamas. In the front row is Jordyn Hattenhauer. In the second row are, from left, Karla Hernandez, Kendyl Kumm and Jessika Nañez. In the third row are, from left, Giselle Schwartz, Stephanie Flores and Samantha Stanley. In the back row are, from left, Anna Singhurst, Shivani Patel, Emily Adams and Jenifer Salinas.
Winning back-to-back competitions by an average of 5.5 points did not sit well with members of The Dalles cheer squad.
Leading up to last Saturday, each individual spent every waking moment thinking of ways to improve for the team’s success.
The fight was on for a perfect routine.
At the Cavalier Cheer Invitational in Clackamas, TD got its groove back in a major way with top honors by a final margin of 183.9-132.5 over second-place Hood River Valley.
“We didn’t have the best routine the week before, so leading up to our competition, I think that really motivated everyone to give 150 percent at practice,” TD senior Kendyl Kumm said. “We all felt like we had something to prove with our routine and I think we proved ourselves last weekend. We worked hard all week to put out an amazing routine, a routine we were proud of. I saw more drive from all of the girls than ever before.”
Of the three categories, the overall routine consisted of formations, routine creativity, motions, voice, cheer, dance and overall impression, in which the Riverhawks amassed a 61 out of 65 possible points.
In tumbling and jumps, TD had to perform standing tumbling difficulty, standing tumbling execution, running tumbling difficulty, running tumbling execution, jump difficulty, jump execution and synchronization, and those totals equaled to 63 of 75.
The building skills portion involved stunt difficulty, stunt execution, pyramid difficulty, pyramid execution, toss difficulty, toss execution and building skills creativity.
After four tumbling fault deductions, when those elements were added up, TD ended up with 59.9 of 75 points for its 183.9, the highest score since the program returned to competitive cheer and better than eight other 6A programs.
“I think all my fliers deserve a special shoutout, because they are a key component in making sure my stunts hit,” TD coach Kelsey Wallace said. “Anna Singhurst was just put into our elite stunt section and hit beautifully. Jordyn Hattenhauer is amazingly talented and a beautiful flier. I don't think she ever gives herself enough credit for how well she does and I couldn’t have been prouder. Also, to Emily Adams, who is a freshman and in her first year as a flier. She continually works hard for her skills and it is showing on the mat.”
While spreading the compliments to the team’s collaborative efforts, Riverhawk coach Kelsey Wallace credited her seniors, Kumm, Jessika Nañez, Jenifer Salinas, Shivani Patel and Samantha Stanley, for keeping the girls encouraged through the daylong event.
In normal circumstances, before hitting the mat, the group huddles together, reminding each other of all the little things that make the routine flow smoothly.
This last weekend, however, the pep talks were kept to a minimum, except it came down to the seniors rallying the veterans and the newcomers about wanting them to experience what it felt like to have everything hit and for them to come off the mat feeling proud and that they were all capable of great accomplishments.
“Knowing it was going to be our last time competing before state, we (the seniors) really tried to motivate all the girls as much as possible,” Stanley said. “We all know we are capable of hitting a clean routine. We have done it at practice, time and time again, but it really came down to the determination of every girl on our team to make sure everything went as smoothly as possible.”
From here, The Dalles is scheduled to perform its routine during halftime of Friday’s basketball game at Kurtz Gym in a final performance before state.
After that, Wallace plans to continue building the team’s stamina, while adding in a little more difficulty in some areas of the routine and just continue to clean it up as much as possible, before state competition begins at 1:45 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland.
Execution is key in the cheer world and the Riverhawks are fighting for every point they can get.
“It was amazing to hit a near-perfect routine and see how high our scores were. This is what we needed going into state,” Nañez said. “Now we only have five practices and one performance left and we just need to keep progressing. To win state, we really need to come together as a team and have the mindset that we can do it and that it’s not impossible. We must go out on that mat and have the confidence that we’ve already won. I’m excited to show the rest of the state what we can do. This is our year.”