Sports

Spirits raised at OHHS

Saturday contained more backward tosses, twisting transitions and pyramids, than ever seen before in the Oak Harbor High School gym.

The 10th annual Spiritfest cheerleading competition drew a record 67 high school and club teams (1,500 cheerleaders) from all over Washington and British Columbia.

“As the coordinator of the event, it was an overwhelming experience, OHHS cheer coach Pam Headridge said.

Spiritfest, which had high school teams from Oak Harbor and Coupeville, along with North Whidbey’s Liberty Cheer Club, gave local athletes a chance to shine in front of their home fans — something they seldom get an opportunity to do.

“Competition is time for us to show what we’re made of and it’s always more fun when you have more people there for you,” OHHS senior captain Lauren Acton said.

The local teams didn’t disappoint.

The Wildcat high school squad captured the large varsity co-ed title, edging out Canada’s Port Moody 232-221. OHHS originally took second after being docked 25 points, but was given those points back after it was learned the judges followed rules from last year.

The Wildcats had a few mishaps and drops, but being the first competition of the season, nobody was too down on the performance.

“It’s early in the season,” captain Jennifer Sansom said. “We know we can do it right, we’ve done it so many times.”

Headridge also liked what she saw from her team.

“I was very pleased with their overall performance,” she said. “They demonstrated lots of energy and commanded great attention from the audience.

Their tosses were high and the entire routine was very synchronized.”

Other Oak Harbor teams or individuals placing included: a second place for 5-girl stunt team of Hannah Berry, Natalie Lumbo, Lauren Acton, Amanda Wadinski and Janelle Ruefa; an individual first place for Tyler Theriault and a first place for the co-ed stunt team of C.J. Wong, Natalie Lumbo.

Coupeville’s small varsity team took first in its category earning 219 team points out of a possible 300.

The group struggled with drops in its routine during halftime performances at the boys and girls basketball games the night before, but was on point Saturday.

“We hit everything,” CHS freshman Megan Meyer said.

Competing in a group of 51 club teams, Oak Harbor’s Liberty Cheer squad also had some strong performances.

The Liberty mini and pee wee teams took first place, while the Liberty juniors took second and seniors took fourth.

Individuals placing for Liberty included a first place from Zaiha Sams (mini), a first for Jember Jansen (pee wee), third for Ali Thiele (junior prep), fifth for Alisa Herrara, third for Jordan Carlson (junior) and fifth for Tracy Vessals (junior).

From left to right, front to back, Oak Harbor cheerleaders, Janelle Ruefa, Tyler Theriault, Nikki Sanders, Emmie Iacono and Brittany Warner perform as part of the large co-ed varsity squad that took first place over Port Moody during the 10th annual Spiritfest at OHHS on Saturday. In their first competition of the season, the Wildcats earned 232 of a possible 300 points. Coupeville cheerleaders, left, pose at the end of their small varsity performance on Saturday morning. Facing front to back are Saralynn Kortlever, Erin Aus, Catherine Mitchell and Kaitlyn Torres. The Wolves took first place in their three-team category with 219 of a possible 300 points. Saturday’s even was the kickoff to the competitive high school season which runs through March.

Jim Woolbright/staff photos

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