Wildcats cheerleaders take fifth

The Oak Harbor cheerleading squad was able to escape the wet and snowy Washington weather last week and enjoy a sunny trip to California. It wasn’t just a pleasure trip though, the team was there on business - the USA National cheerleading championships.

The Wildcats came away from the Nationals as one of the best cheerleading squads in the country. The team brought home a fifth-place trophy in the all-girl large varsity division II.

For 15 of the 26 cheerleaders on the Cats’ squad it was their first experience at a national competition. Despite the majority of the team competing on such a large stage for the first time, nerves did not prevent them from performing a near perfect routine.

"I was very proud of the cheerleaders," said Coach Pam Headridge. "Making finals was our goal. Last year we brought home a sixth-place trophy but missed making finals by one point."

This year because of the many teams in the division, eight squads were selected for finals and competed again on Sunday. Oak Harbor cheerleaders were ecstatic to be one of those eight finalists.

The Wildcats rose to the occasion. According to Headridge the team had a better performance during the finals on Sunday than they did in the prelims the day before.

Thousands of cheerleaders from more than 250 schools participated in this three-day competition in California which was held at the Anaheim Convention Center. Teams came from all over the West Coast including Arizona, Nevada, and California. The Wildcats were the lone school from Washington.

In the end, the Oak Harbor cheerleaders placed fifth by beating out such powerhouses as El Toro and Ramona Riverside. Hemet High School of California won the division.

"We get to be on TV," exclaimed senior Sarah Gohn. "Cameras were everywhere. It was so exciting!"

ESPN taped the competition and will air it at a date to be determined in the summer.

Members of the team were seniors Sarah Gohn, Eliza Comicho, Briellen Eisner, Keilah Oatman and Lindsy Fennell; juniors Vanessa Armstrong, Kristin Acton, Anna Galgana, Megan Stump, Nikki McClaskey, Tiffany Richards, Kimberly Boon and Sarah Bottenberg; sophomores Rebecca Ford, Michelle Gagnon, Alicia McDaniel, Khrystine Medina, Hannie VanCleef, Allison Hogan, Cassy Cooley, Ashlee Davis, Devon Shulock, Lauren Shulock, Lydia Gale and Stephanie Bragg; and freshman Lauren Acton.

Headridge praised her seniors for their leadership capabilities.

“My seniors were the motivating force behind the squad this year,” she said. “They motivated the girls and got them prepared because it can be pretty intimidating.”

The Wildcat cheerleaders will finish up their competition season this weekend at the Northwest Cheerleading Championship at Pacific Lutheran University.

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