Sherando wins 4A North cheer title, Colonels take 3rd
STEPHENS CITY — Sherando High School’s competition cheer team extended its streak of state tournament appearances with a stellar performance at the 4A North Region Championship at Dominion High School in Sterling on Saturday.
The Warriors posted the highest score out of the 16 teams in the opening round, and then posted the top score once again in the four-team finals to claim the regional crown.
Sherando, the Conference 21 champions, won the title in the final round that included Fauquier, James Wood and host Dominion.
The Warriors — who will make their seventh straight state tournament appearance — won the second round with 231 points, Fauquier followed in second with 216 1/2 to edge James Wood (same score) for runner-up honors and Dominion followed in fourth with 206 .
“We had our best performance of the year,” said Sherando coach Tom Grim. “It was absolutely amazing what they did.”
The Warriors, led by senior captains Savana Boyd, Alyssa Williford and Madison Lesman, will be one of eight teams vying for the Group 4A state title at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Siegel Center at noon on Saturday.
In addition to the captains, the Warriors’ roster of 21 includes: junior Mariah Brown, junior Marisa Craig, junior Victoria Dean, junior Katelyn Edwards, freshman Cari Evick, junior Jessica Grayson, junior Savannah Hatfield, junior Tehya Herbaugh, sophomore Rachel Hindle, junior Angelique Matthews, junior Alissa Miller, sophomore Autumn Molden, junior Sydney Phillips, sophomore Kaitlyn Pierro, junior Anna Reynolds, junior Taylor Ritter, junior Sydney Slater, and junior Emmalee Strosnider.
Williford said the team hopes this will be its chance to deliver a breakthrough performance and possibly improve on last year’s program-best, fourth-place effort.
“We keep saying seven is a lucky number — that type of thing,” said Williford, who was reached by phone on Sunday. “We all want it so bad. It’s really exciting and it’s our last year so we want to go out with a bang. The rest of the team wants it, too. We all want it for each other and not just ourselves.”
Grim said his team needed to wait almost four hours before they were able to perform (after drawing the 16th spot at the tourney) and performed well despite having to alter their routine last week.
“[Last week] we found out we had an illegal stunt we’d been using all year, so we had to change that and that’s not fun,” Grim said. “So for doing something in two days and getting it down and be able to perform in a pressure-packed situation is a testament to the athletic ability of my girls. To do that twice within an hour after sitting for almost four hours is amazing.”
Grim said his team has a solid opportunity going to the state tournament as a regional champion.
“I think we have a real good shot but it’s very pressure packed,” Grim said. “We are in the first-place [seed] range and that gives you a good seed going into [state]. Eight teams will compete and then they call back the top four to compete for place at state. We get three minutes to show what we’ve got.”
James Wood, led by senior captains MiKayla DeMaio, Rachel Denton, Sierra McGraw and junior Alex Stanford, will also get a chance to showcase their routine at the state level for the first time in three years. The Colonels’ third-place finish (losing a tiebreaker — the average of the five judges’ scores — with Fauquier) at regionals earned the team its first state berth since 2010, and the second state trip overall for coach Tracy Copley.
Copley said there’s 28 members overall in the program, but the 19-member competition cheer squad includes: Ally Anderson, Elizabeth Bange, Emily Brown, Tammy Cave, Allie Cooper, Emma Hammond, Briana Harper, Rachel Judy, Emily Landon, Jaimie Marcy, Janis Martin, Emily McKee, Brooke Stautzenbach, Haleigh Teter and Kristina Williams.
“They couldn’t have performed any better,” Copley said. “I’m very pleased. We’ve been working the entire season and our goal has been to make it to state. I just can’t say enough positive things about this team. I only have three seniors on the team, and I feel like we’re more like a family than a team.”
Clarke County just missed a return trip to the state tournament. The Eagles finished in the top six but fell just shy of the four-qualifying spots at the 2A East Regional at East Rockingham High School on Saturday.
The Eagles’ Nick Sipe earned first team all-region honors, and both Victoria Abraham and Lexi Marasco received second team all-region.