The Student News Site of Saratoga High School

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Cheer team ends its season with CCS win, qualification for nationals in Las Vegas

Marie Kerlau
The cheer team gathers around their coach in celebration after first place at CCS on Jan. 20.

Shaking off their pre-performance nerves, the 11 members of the school’s cheer team rushed onto the main stage of this year’s CCS competition, held at Independence High School on Jan. 20. Two minutes into their nearly 3-minute routine, the team pulled off the pyramid, one of their most challenging stunts: Every member contributed to lifting up junior flyer Lucie LeToquin and senior flyer Riley Alves as the two flyers hit a series of poses, filled with enthusiasm and smiles.

Courtesy of Marie Kerlau

The cheer team performing the pyramid stunt at the JAMZ Showdown at the Bay tournament on Jan 13.

The team ended up winning first place in the cheerleading novice non tumbling small division. The team also “hit zero,” meaning they achieved all of their stunts successfully without point deductions from the judges.

This first-place finish was the highlight of a high stakes season, filled with back to back competitions and intensive training sessions.

Junior base Annaliese Shab recalled how the team had no high hopes for the CCS competition due to the tight time frame and fierce competition.

“When we didn’t get called for second place at CCS, we all thought that we didn’t place,” Shab said. “But when they called on us for first, we all jumped up in excitement. It was a surreal moment for us because of all the work we put in this season and the improvement that we’ve had since we started.”

The following weekend, the team went to JAMZ (an independent cheer organization) school cheer nationals in Las Vegas after qualifying in December. They placed seventh out of nine teams. While the outcome was not what the team had hoped for, Shab believes the experience was still very rewarding.

“Being in the same room as really impressive teams was intimidating, but everyone was really supportive and the energy was nice,” Shab said.

On Jan. 13, the week prior to CCS, the team also performed at a more local tournament, the JAMZ Showdown at the Bay, placing second out of seven teams.

For many members, the leadup to competitions like these was  incredibly stressful, but after stepping onto the stage and performing, their nervousness quickly subsided. According to freshman flyer and backspot Dezi Lencioni, the tight time frame between competitions also added pressure onto the team. Between each competition this year, the team had been tweaking their routine to adhere to different rules organizations may have had, while increasing the difficulty and competitiveness of their performance. 

Competing in the varsity non-tumbling category, which scores teams based on jumps, stunt pyramids and dancing, the team held 2-hour practices five times a week in preparation for their tournaments. The backbone of the routine remained the same throughout the season but new components were often made between tournaments.

“Competition practices were much more intense and the whole team was very focused,” senior backspot Eva Semin said. “In comparison to sideline season, there has to be a lot more precision and effort from everyone, so we’re all trying to improve our skills every practice.”

Semin noted this fast-paced schedule has been a drastic change for the team compared to previous seasons. For the past few years of cheer, due to COVID-19 regulations, coaching complications and member shortages, the team competed in nearly no competitions.

However, after  Brandy Fisher joined as the team’s head coach this year, multiple members found her strong background in competitive cheer and care for the team to be a major factor in their success. Although Fisher is planning on returning as a coach next season, the team will be losing three key seniors — O’Brien, Alves and Semin. In light of this, the team is trying to advertise the team to underclassmen in hopes of making up for the lost talent.

“Cheer is such a special program,” Shab said. “You gain so much strength and I’ve never been stronger, but you also are building a mini family with your teammates and succeeding together after all the dedication and effort you put in.”

Donate to The Saratoga Falcon

Your donation will support the student journalists of Saratoga High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Saratoga Falcon