Kamehameha ascends cheerleading pyramid
|Photo gallery: State cheerleading championships|
|Video: State cheerleading championships|
By Catherine E. Toth
Special to The Advertiser
By Catherine E. Toth
It was an afternoon made for Warriors at the Stan Sheriff Center yesterday.
Not only did the No. 10 University of Hawai'i Warriors find out they were playing Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, but the Kamehameha Warrior varsity squad reclaimed the state title in the large division at the HHSAA/Zippy's Cheerleading State Championship.
Kamehameha had won the title every year since 2001, but was upset at the last state championship in January by Mililani.
Apparently, the Warriors wanted it back.
"They left with the feeling they didn't do the best they were capable of. They left with regrets," Kamehameha co-head coach Dolly Wong said. "Their goal this time was to leave the mat with no regrets. ... They knocked it down and that's the best feeling."
Added co-head coach Melissa Beimes: "They really, really wanted it."
Kamehameha scored 351.5 points to beat out defending state champion Mililani (301.5), which racked up costly deductions, including a fall during a pyramid stunt.
Radford defended its state title in the medium division with 345 points. The Rams beat out strong showings by Moanalua (326) and Baldwin (322.5).
Yesterday's championship will likely go down in the record books as the longest cheerleading competition in HHSAA history.
The cheerleaders and their supporters had to wait for about an hour for results, as the arena hosted the live broadcast of the Bowl Championship Series announcement on Fox.
And with the best seats in the arena before the doors opened to hundreds of UH fans, they didn't seem to mind.
"We were stoked," said Keenyn Won, 17, who was named Most Outstanding Cheerleader and was one of six Kamehameha selected All-State. "It was fun and different. Go Warriors!"
Twenty varsity squads competed yesterday in the state championship, which featured several exhibition performances by junior varsity and intermediate squads from various schools.
Squads performed 2 1/2-minute routines that included not more than 90 seconds of music and a minimum of 35 seconds of cheering.
The squads were judged in four key areas: fundamental skills, team choreography, routine execution and overall construction of the routine. Judges looked at jumps, stunts, dance, timing, synchronization, spacing, creativity, voice projection and crowd leadership, among other elements.
Kamehameha, which had the highest score of the competition, executed a nearly perfect routine that opened with synchronized backflips, then a stylized series of one-legged stunts, then an explosive tumbling sequence. The Warriors' routine garnered the loudest cheers of the day.
"The competition has been getting harder and harder," Won said. "But there was never a part (in the routine) that we didn't feel strong. We knew we had to give it everything we've got."
According to coaches, yesterday's event showcased some of the best cheerleading the state championship has ever seen.
"The level, overall, has gotten higher," Radford cheer coach Bo Frank said. "And that keeps pushing us, too."
Defending medium-division champion Radford hit the mats last, opening with powerful tumbling and a series of lifts that got the crowd on its feet. It was a near-flawless routine that earned the Rams squad its highest point total all season.
"What sets us apart is our difficulty," said Frank, whose team is heading to a national championship in Dallas later this month. "We're maxing out on the score sheet."
At the O'ahu Interscholastic Association championship two weeks ago, the Rams took home the league title despite a fall during one of their stunt sequences.
Yesterday, they nailed it.
"I kept thinking, 'Hit, hit, hit, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze,' " Frank said, laughing. "They were really solid. We've been making progress and we're peaking at the right time."
Reach Catherine E. Toth at email@example.com.