It was worth the wait.
The Oak Harbor High School cheer squad performed last but finished first in its division to perform but finished first in the standings at the state high school championships Friday, Feb. 7, at Battle Ground High School.
The Wildcats and fellow Western Conference school Lynnwood finished 1-2 out of six teams in the 3A medium non-tumbling division. Oak Harbor edged the Royals 72.25-70.5. Ballard was a distant third at 61.25.
Oak Harbor built momentum for the state tournament by placing fifth at the National Cheerleaders Association tournament in Dallas a week earlier.
The Wildcats entered the state tournament with the highest qualifying score, which slotted Oak Harbor as the final team to perform in its division.
“The team was a little nervous knowing we were the team to beat,” Oak Harbor coach Jazmin Jones said. “But they were also excited and eager to perform their very best and put everything they had out on the mat.
“Knowing this was their last competition of the season and the seniors last performance of the year, they wanted to not only hit an amazing routine but also win a state title.”
“This is such a great group of cheerleaders,” Jones said. “They all treat each other with respect and know how to encourage each other through tough times. I believe we won because not only were we hitting elite stunts but we were also very confident and positive throughout our entire competition season.
“Winning our state competition and qualifying for nationals was this team’s goal from the very beginning, and nothing was going to stop them from achieving that goal.”
They team put in the necessary work to reach those goals, Jones added. In addition to practicing five days a week, the team also cheered at Oak Harbor football and basketball games, volunteered for many community events, organized more than 10 fundraisers and participated in six competitions.
“For everything we have earned this season, I am so beyond proud of what we have accomplished,” Jones said. “We received so much support from our school and our community and we are so excited that we get to bring home the first-place state title to Oak Harbor.”