Over the summer and fall, The Dalles cheer squad has been in the lab working on perfecting their routine.
On Sept. 22 at the OCCA Game Day Championships competition held on the campus of Willamette University, TD competed in three divisions and finished in second place in the band dance/situational cheer/fight song division.
Last Saturday, the team fielded four individuals and three stunt groups in the OCCA State Competition at Thurston High School.
Emily Adams picked up fourth place out of 46 individuals.
In the individual portion, Adams performed a running tumbling pass, standing tumbling, jumps and a choreographed cheer and dance in front of a panel of judges.
They were judged on the difficulty of their jumps and tumbling, so execution was a big component of how well they scored, and the judges made assessments based on sharpness of motions, voice and overall performance.
“I was awarded the fourth-place spot on the 5A individual all-state team, and I am so blessed to be on a team where my teammates are so supportive of me and each other,” Adams said.
In addition to Adams, Meli Avila (sophomore), Gabbe Haskins (freshman) represented the girls, while Caleb Parsons (sophomore) competed in the male individual division.
Overall, head coach Kelsey Sugg-Wallace had two all-girl stunt groups and one coed squad.
The first stunt group was Haskins, Giselle Schwartz (senior), Adams (junior), Alexa Baldy (senior), and Brooke Abrams (sophomore).
Mikiyle Brantner (sophomore), Karla Hernandez (senior), Sophia Pullen (senior), and Stephanie Flores (senior) were the No. 2 stunt team, and Avila (sophomore), Parsons (sophomore), Amy Hernandez (freshman), Giselle Ortega (freshman), and Leslie Morales (sophomore) made up the third stunt squad.
“While our stunt groups did not place, they hit all their stunts and put out clean routines and did everything we asked them to do,” Sugg-Wallace said. “There was some tough competition, but it was great practice moving into our competition season.”
Schwartz said that TD’s individual performances went very well, even though for most of them, it was their first performance in front of a big crowd by themselves.
She had even loftier praise for the three stunt teams, who all showed well in excelling at their skills and hitting clean.
Schwartz said that the stunt teams are still working on gaining more confidence in front of large crowds and judges.
“The team did amazing this past weekend,” she said. “Everyone hit their routines and had solid performances. With how well we did, I am very confident in this season and am excited to see what we can accomplish.”
In February, The Dalles scored a season-high 193.3 points to earn runner-up honors at the OSAA coed small division state championships at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Across the board, TD had the second-highest point total out of every team in Oregon and outscored every 6A team, trailing only small division champion, David Douglas (196.4).
Team leaders from that squad, Mackenzie Smith, Nathan Nañez and Hannah Wallis were huge catalysts in getting the team back up near the top of the standings.
Now that responsibility is on Schwartz, Baldy, Hernandez, Pullen and Flores.
“I think this was a great start to our competition season, and it made everyone want to do well that much more,” Schwartz said.
“I wouldn’t say anyone looked more dominant than the others, just that returners obviously are going to be more comfortable in performing in front of people than our newbies are.
“But the more you do it, the more you love it, and I know soon enough our whole team will grow confident in what we train hard to do,” she said.
Through the winter, the Riverhawks will perfect their cheer routines inside Kurtz Gymnasium during basketball season.
By the turn of the New Year, co-ed competitions begin with the first event slated for Jan. 18, 2020 at the Pacer Invitational in Lakeridge.