Cheer squads jump for joy

There was certainly no lack of cheer in Oak Harbor Saturday.

Close to 850 cheerleaders and 2000 spectators filled the Oak Harbor High School gymnasium to capacity Saturday for the ninth annual Spiritfest competition.

“I was really pleased with the turnout,” Oak Harbor cheer head coach Pam Headridge said.

There would have been an even larger group according to Headridge, but five teams had to back out after winter weather earlier in the month didn’t allow for them to practice.

The eight-hour event drew high school and club teams from as far south Shelton to as far north as Vancouver, B.C., but a heavy amount of success came from local squads.

Oak Harbor’s 21-member co-ed varsity team, which had 11 new participants and all four of its boys competing for the first time, captured the top spot its three-team division with 239 points. The next closest competitor, Port Moody (Canada) had 213.

The two OHHS five-girl stunt teams also fared well. The gold squad of Allison Hogan, Cassy Cooley, Jessica Gilbert, Hannah Berry and Lauren Acton captured first place with 127 points. The purple team of Megan Longland, Ashley Small, Natalie Lumbo, Janelle Ruefa and Tiffany Bourlet finished second with 110 points.

Coupeville High School proved they could compete with some of the larger area schools, taking first place in small varsity division above the likes of 4A Stanwood, Cascade and Kent-Meridian.

The local youth Liberty Cheer club received three first place finishes in the junior prep, junior prep stunt team and junior stunt team divisions. They also placed second in the junior team division and had several individual winners.

All the proceeds from Saturday’s event will fund national and regional competitions for the OHHS cheer squad, including their trip to USA Nationals in Anaheim, Calif.

The event went off without a hitch, something Headridge credits not only to the help of the cheer parents, but the time put in by high school boosters and other school officials.

“I was just overwhelmed by all the support,”she said.

The Wildcat cheer squad has their next large competition on Saturday, Jan. 31 at Sammamish High School.

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