The 7 a.m. practices paid off for the Craig Middle School cheerleading team.
The CMS squad went to two-a-day practices as tahe National Cheerleaders Association competition neared last week.
"(The morning practices) were really tiring, but we needed theam," seventh-grader Cathy Schneegas said.
During the five years that coach Renee Chason has taken her CMS teams to the competition, the main rivalry has been with Dove Creek Middle School. Dove Creek was there this year, and the regional title came down to the two rivals Saturday in Grand Junction.
"We all held hands in a circle and waited," eighth-grader Jasmine Higgins said. "When they announced Dove Creek was second we knew we won, and we went crazy."
There were even some tears shed.
"It was a little stressful toward the end," Higgins said. "We cried probably because we were relieved and happy."
This was the second consecutive year the CMS team won the regional title.
Higgins said there was more pressure to win this year because the team was the defending champion.
The team finished first out of three squads.
"There aren't any other middle school teams around us that compete," Chason said. "It would be nice to have more competition but Dove Creek is always good."
Chason said that her team won the championship with superb stunting and tumbling.
"We have some very good tumblers," she said. "The girls worked very hard on stunting as well."
The Bulldogs performed four basket tosses in their routine. Other teams had only one toss.
"Other teams focus more on their cheers than us," Chason said. "We get our points from stunting, and this year's group was strong in that area."
Now that the competition is over, the girls were split on having a break.
"We get to learn new things now," Higgins said.
"The stress is over," Schneegas said.
The Moffat County dance team has some slight adjustments to make, and the cheerleading team is geared up to pull its routine together, coach Susie Lord said.
The dance team finished third of seven schools at the NCA regional.
"The dance team earned an award for superior showmanship," Lord said. "Basically that is for how well they worked the crowd and presented themselves."
The team had trouble sticking its stunts.
"There were things that could have been done much better," Lord said. "Mistakes that shouldn't have been made happened."
The teams will be practicing twice a day next week to prepare for the Colorado High School Activities Association's Spirit championships Dec. 3.