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Pyramid of success

Folsom cheer squad places 14th at national competition
By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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More than 14,000 cheerleaders descended upon Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. Feb. 9-10 to compete in the National High School Cheer Competition.

Folsom High’s competition cheer squad consisting of 20 girls had practiced five months to prepare for the competition and ended up finishing 14th in the large varsity division I level out of 25 entrants. It’s been at least six years since Folsom High was represented in the competition, but the girls showed they are one of the top squads in the nation.

To get to the competition, cheer squads had to qualify by earning enough points in local competitions in the months leading up to the national championships, as well as raise the money to be able to attend.

For the last five months, the team has been learning, training, practicing and perfecting its two-minute, 30-second routine which features a series of difficult stunt sequences, tumbling, dance moves and cheer chants.

On Feb. 9 the team competed in the semifinals and was seeded ninth at the end of the day, before slipping to 14th during the finals on Sunday. The cheerleaders were judged on their execution and difficulty of their stunts and pyramids, group tumbling, jumps and dance and those numbers were totaled up to an overall score.

“Cheerleading is interesting because people expect perfection every time and for a squad to be perfect, the stars have to align perfectly,” said Tiffany Ellison, the team’s coach along with James Blunk. “A football team has plays it runs and no matter how many times they practice them they don’t always run them perfectly. I never ask for perfection, but instead, 100 percent commitment and they gave me that every time they stepped on the mat.”

Tammy Kirby, a volunteer cheer coordinator, said the team did a great job.

“It should be known by all that these 20 young ladies made Folsom High proud,” Kirby said. “Their impeccable behavior, performance, good-sportsmanship and general good will toward others has made a name for Folsom High at the national level. They should be welcomed home with loud applause and kudos for the hours of grueling cheer and tumbling practices, despite many ongoing injuries, over the past five months -- all the while maintaining overall excellent GPAs.”

Ellison is already excited about and looking forward to competing in the event next year.

“I think we’re going to have an immensely talented squad again next year and will be going for a top-five finish,” Ellison said. “One of our cheerleaders has already had contact with Morehead State (University) cheerleading and they are the national cheer champions. We haven’t been acknowledged in seven years, at least through scholarships from schools at Morehead’s level. By going to these competitions and doing well, we create a better opportunity for our athletes to be recognized by colleges with scholarships.”

Members of the team include Milena Abarca, Hannah Boctor, Erika Camacho, Sydney Cooks, Chelsea Cox, Morgan Ellison, Rileigh Ellison, Savannah Ellison, Stephanie Gerber, Shauna Jensen, Melissa Johnson, Megan Kirby, Casey Knox, Francesca Legrande, Mariah Lobland, Kimi Matsuda, Carly Malmendier, Kyra Moeller, Sara Qutami and Samantha Tatro.