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Competition Cheerleaders Crank It Up At Exhibition

The HCHS competition cheerleading team came agonizingly close to a Western Valley District championship last year, losing by a close margin at home against Franklin County.

Fine-tuning their skills and winning that championship has been the driving force for the squad in the off-season, and the team unveiled its high-flying, high-energy routine Monday night before an appreciative crowd at the high school gym.

Competition cheerleading has evolved into routines featuring a great amount of tumbling and gymnastics, and the focus of the team since last season has been on conditioning and fine-tuning those skills, according to Lauren Owen, who has coached the team for three years.

“The main thing ever since the season ended last year and through the summer and this season was doing a lot more conditioning with the girls, more strength training, and taking more tumbling classes,” Owen said.

The team has gotten stronger all around, Owen added, with the squad demonstrating their tumbling and gymnastics skills at the recent Harvest Festival in South Boston.

Competition cheerleading has progressed a great deal since she and fellow coach Jennifer Crenshaw were part of the team, Owen added.

“It really has come a long way, and improved, especially since Jen and I cheered,” she said.

“It’s amazing what the girls can do now, and they’re stronger individually which makes everything easier for them.”

The team is focused on the Western Valley District championship at Franklin County, and has stepped up their conditioning to help it prepare, Owen continued.
“We want to win this year and that’s always our intention coming into the season, so we’ve been working them hard so far and trying to get the best out of them.”

The big difference last year between the teams, according to what the judges told her, was expertise in tumbling, noted Owen.

“Tumbling has always been our weakness, so we’ve built that up,” Owen explained.

“Each year we improve with our tumbling, our stunts this year are more difficult than they’ve ever been, and the overall cleanliness of the routine has improved this year.

“Tonight was about performing in front of the crowd and giving family and friends an opportunity to see us, and it was also to get them used to performing in front of people.”

Seniors Caitlyn Whitlow, Tiffany Green and Fallon Farmer, each a four-year competition cheerleader, commented on the long hours the team has put in to prepare for the district championships.

“We’ve done more stretching to make our jumps and our stunts better,” remarked Whitlow, who like Farmer performed a creative dance routine at the exhibition.

“Stretching and conditioning have helped our tumbling and stunts overall, and I think we have a better chance this year.”

Green said she and her team have one goal, to take home a championship.

“We finished second to Franklin County last year and really want to win this year,” Green noted.

“We have a good chance of winning this year because we’ve made our routine harder and we’ve improved our conditioning to make our stunts better.”

Weight training and running have been an everyday part of practice for the team, Green added.

“We’ve put a lot more hours in and worked a lot harder than ever before,” she said.

“Our daily routine has us running five laps to start and then we do a lot more conditioning like push ups, and crunches.

“That has made a difference, and the difficulty level of our routines and stunts has increased.”

Farmer remarked that she’s seen a great deal of changes both in her four years on the team, not only in the difficulty of the routines but in the team’s workout regimen in preparation for competition.

“Since my ninth grade year it’s been a lot different and this squad has turned completely around,” noted Farmer.

“We’re working a lot more hours and the girls are trying their hardest, and we’re literally here practicing six out of seven days a week, for a minimum of two hours at a time.

“We do a lot of running to build endurance, a lot of strength training and a lot of repetitions to hone our routine so we can almost do them in our sleep.”

Farmer feels the team needs to focus on the fundamentals to give it its best chance to win the district title.

“We need to concentrate on the little things.  We have the basic foundation and we’ve worked on our tumbling and increased our difficulty level,” Farmer said.

“Now we have to concentrate on the little stuff, hitting our motions tight and reinforcing everything we have to let the judges know we want it.”

The Western Valley District championships are October 28, starting at 6 p.m. in the Franklin County High School Gym.