Cheer squad nabs fourth in nation

What a way to close the season.

The Oak Harbor High School cheerleaders brought home two trophies from USA Nationals in Anaheim, Calf., March 5-6 and returned home to win the state championship in the large co-ed division at Kent-Meridian High School the following weekend, March 12.

In a field of 13 teams from around the nation, Oak Harbor came through with a school-best fourth place at nationals.

“Our goal was to make it into finals and place higher then our past best of fifth,” head coach Pam Headridge said. “We moved up to a harder division this year of large co-ed.

It has been a challenge all year to meet the needed requirements to compete in this category, but in the end it has all been worth it.”

In order to achieve its best national finish ever, Oak Harbor needed to overcome some early obstacles.

The Wildcat cheerleaders had an injury just before their first team performance when Andrew Shumate dislocated his knee in warmup an hour before the routine. After approval from the medical staff, and some adjustments, the OHHS cheerleaders hit the floor and gutted their way through the opening performance.

Oak Harbor’s two-and-a-half minute routine contained on-point choreography with stunting, tumbling, dancing and jumping.

“I was so proud of everyone,” Headridge said. “Andrew insisted on doing the routine even though he was in a lot of pain.

The team supported him 100 percent. The cheerleaders did not panic even with the last minute changes for the injury.”

Only five teams from the large co-ed division advanced to Sunday. According to Headridge, when the Wildcats were called as one of those teams the feeling was surreal.

“You would have thought we had won first place by the screams of excitement from the parents and cheerleaders in the crowd,” she said.

The second day, the Wildcats readjusted their routine and added back in a few harder elements like Shumate’s single-based-liberty and Natalie Lumbo’s double-down twist cradle.

To go along with an impressive team performance, sophomore Tyler Theriault also came through huge, placing third in the individual cheerleader category.

“He has great talent and drive,” Headridge said. “He will be able to win this division in the future if he can learn to do a full in his tumbling pass.”

OHHS used its momentum from nationals on Saturday, winning the large co-ed state title by 43 points over the nearest competitor, Thomas Jefferson.

“It is hard to compete at state after competing at nationals, but we were determined to win this year,” Headridge said. “ The cheerleaders went wild when Oak Harbor’s name was called.

It meant so much to us to win this year since we missed first place last year by one point.”

It was Oak Harbor’s second state title in the last four years. The last came in 2002.

Members of the Wildcat co-ed cheer team are: Lauren Acton, Brittany Warner, Hannah Berry, Tiffany Bourlet, Amanda Wadinski, Natalie Lumbo, Roxy Olavario, CJ Wong, Andrew Shumate, Janelle Ruefa, Jennifer Sansom, Denon Lammatao, BreAnna Stanek, and Daniel Vandiver, Heather Henderson, James Blunk, John Umayam, Tyler Theriault, Brynn Fakkema, Kelsey Lambert, Kiri Sanders, Niki Sanders, Samantha Culver, Jordan Carlson, Mia Bottenberg, Lauryn Wilson, Ashley Parish, Toni Leyden, Marissa Price and Marissa Lopez.

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