Spiritfest hailed a success

The hordes of people flowing in and out the Oak Harbor High School gymnasium Saturday were not there for a basketball game or a wrestling meet. The crowd of over 1,000 spectators and 600 cheerleaders was taking part in the largest Spiritfest cheerleading competition in the event’s eight year history.

“This is the biggest crowd I’ve seen in my four years here, senior co-captain Kristin Acton said. “This is a humongous competition today and there are so many teams that all bring their friends and family, I’ve never seen the gym this full.”

In fact the gym was so full that next year Oak Harbor head coach and event organizer Pam Headridge said they will have to reduce the amount of teams from 39 this year, to around 30 in 2004.

“It was a little too big for what we could handle,” Headridge said.

The large attendance worked well for the participants, who fed off the support.

“No matter how many people I’m in front of I always do my best,” senior co-captain Tiffany Richards said. “The more people, the better.”

The event provides cheerleaders with an opportunity to put their skills on display and be in the spotlight for a change.

“It’s nice because everybody here is supporting you, and it’s not like on the sidelines of a basketball game, where they’re kind of like get out of the way,” senior co-captain Megan Stump said. “This way they’re focused on you.”

Spiritfest is considered by some to be the best competition of the year.

“This is by far the most fun competition I ever go to because there are so many people here and the caliber of cheerleading is really raised,” Acton said.

The event drew teams from as far south as Kent to as far north as Canada to compete in 14 different events, ranging from individual, to co-ed, to all-girl varsity competition.

Of the 14 events Oak Harbor had one individual performer, two five-girl stunt teams and a large all-girl varsity team participating on the day.

Acton competed in the senior individual event, impressing the judges for a first place finish with 281 points.

“There is a little more pressure in individuals because you’re out there yourself and if you make a mistake there’s no one to cover for you,” Acton said. “At the same time, if you make a mistake no one knows because no one has seen the routine and you’re the only one out there so you can improvise along the way.”

The two Wildcat five-girl stunt teams also found success. Team number two consisting of Kim Boon, Lauren Acton, Cassy Cooley, Jessica Gilbert and Allison Hogan grabbed second place just behind Port Moody, losing by a single point. Team number one came in fifth out of the ten teams.

The Oak Harbor all-girl varsity team also fared well, taking first out of five teams.

Coupeville High School didn’t partake in any competition but their spirit squad put on an exhibition performance, which drew great applause from the crowd.

Despite the excessive amount of people, the event was hailed as a success by the end of the day.

“It was tremendous,” Headridge said. “I was pleased with how smoothly it did run.”

The money taken in from the day’s events will go toward new uniforms, which the team receives every three years as well as funding long-distance trips

The Wildcat cheerleaders will now have competitions about every two weeks through March 27, where they have already qualified to compete in Nationals in Anaheim. Up next for the Cats is the Emerald Cup held in Bellevue.

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