Moffat County cheerleaders make noise at state championships
The Moffat County High School spirit team had plentiful pep in their step this month.
MCHS cheerleaders earned ninth place during the Colorado High School Activities Association’s state championships Dec. 6 at the Denver Coliseum.
The program, which was reformatted this year to function as a combined cheer and dance group, competed in the 2A/3A Game Day category, which focuses on teams’ abilities to rev up a crowd of spectators through chants and stunts.
Coaches Ashley Boulware and Shelby Massey noted that judges kept cheerleaders on their toes.
“It’s basically what you would do at game,” Boulware said. “It consists of a band chant, which is basically a band dance, then they’ll give you a situation, like call out offense or defense, something like that, and you have to choose something to go with that. Then you do a crowd-leading cheer and you end with your fight song.”
Both Boulware and Massey are in their first year coaching cheer at MCHS, and it has been several years since Bulldog athletes took their pom-poms to a CHSAA event just for them.
Massey accompanied the group to the event.
“As far as the competition, all they wanted to do was practice, practice, practice and get everything perfect and ready to go,” she said.
Massey admitted she misread the state schedule, which nearly made them miss their run altogether. Still, students were on the floor on time, and she was there to run their music.
“Watching from the front row was awesome,” she said. “They cheered their little hearts out, that’s for sure.”
Boulware added that team mom Kamisha Siminoe was a big part of the preparation.
“She came to as many practices as she could the month leading up to competition and gave input on our routine and helped us fine-tune our routine so we could perform to the best of our ability,” Boulware said.
Though 19 teams competed in the division, Moffat County was one of only seven teams that took no point deductions for mistakes during the routine, with even champion Bishop Machebeuf and runner-up Lutheran seeing some penalties.
The Bulldog spirit team features some athletes who only participate in cheer and others who only do dance, so the full roster was not on the floor.
Coaches noted that one member of the squad also should not have been competing with what turned out to be a sprained ankle, though Bea Jarmuske didn’t mention she was in pain until after they were finished.
“She got yelled at by the orthopedics,” Boulware said.
Though the group has three seniors, only AJ Calara was able to join in the state event.
While everyone was a bundle of nerves going into the event, the anxiety subsided once their turn came, she said.
“We were just great. At the last second, we were just like, ‘we’ve got to be a team, let’s put all the stress aside and have some fun and show them what we’ve got,'” Calara said. “We came together as a team, we were loud even though there was only seven of us, and to be a top 10 team by competing with other major groups, that was a big accomplishment. That was like the cherry on top of why I wanted to join cheer.”
Makayla Hartung said she was also thrilled with the results, working as a base for Calara during stunts.
“I was anxious, and I was really excited we got her up without fumbling her because of how big of a hurry we were in,” Hartung said.
Senior Fiona Connor primarily does dance and was shooting video of the cheer routine.
“It was really awesome to watch them. I didn’t get to see a lot of them besides at our pep rally,” Connor said. “Watching them on the mat, the whole time I was so excited, everything was going perfectly I could tell. I was really proud of them.”
Though she’s been part of MoCo cheer since her freshman year, senior Sara Beason has been recuperating from a tendon ailment for several months and had to sit out the fall sports season and state.
“I wish nothing happened, but things do,” she said.
Hoping to be back in action by late January, Beason joined the group at the Coliseum and couldn’t help but critique some of the other schools in the meantime, along with Connor.
“Our team was really on point, and a lot of teams were messing up, like one person was too slow,” Connor said. “With AJ, if she fumbled a bit, you couldn’t tell, because she just had a big smile on her face.”