Sailors cheerleading team takes first in its division

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— Following last Saturday's two-minute performance at Mesa State College, the 15 members of the Steamboat Springs cheerleading squad ran out the doors of the gym screaming in celebration.

The girls didn't know where they would finish in the final results of the Rocky Mountain Regional, or even the score of their routine, but that didn't seem to matter.

"It wouldn't have mattered if we had finished in last place; that was the most outstanding performance we have ever put together," senior member Deirdre Kiely said. "It will never get any better than that."

And the judges agreed.

The local squad won the division (medium varsity teams) with a score of 7.3 out of 10 and was given an award for the best incorporation of tumbling in a routine. That award is given to one team in all three ? large, medium and small school ? classes.

Montrose, a team that competed in the large squad division, was the only team to outscore Steamboat in the entire event and was named the Rocky Mountain Region Grand Champion with a score of 7.4.

"I'm just so excited for this team," coach Kathy Jones said. "They have come so far this year and have really come together as a team in the past few weeks."

Kiely said she was amazed following her team's performance on Saturday. The team had performed during a sendoff last Thursday at the high school ? an outing the three-year member of the team said was anything but inspiring.

"It wasn't pretty," Kiely said. "I was pretty worried when we left for the regional, but we really pulled it together."

Kiely called her team's routine in Grand Junction awesome.

"We worked really hard this year and it all came together," Kiely said. "It was flawless."

Unfortunately, the regional showing will be the last competitive showing for the local team this year. The team, which is not funded by the school, doesn't have the money to go to the state meet, which will be held in Denver in two weeks. The team's score also qualified it for the National Cheerleading Association finals, but Jones said that event is also cost prohibitive.

Jones said the team will continue to cheer at Sailors basketball games this year and will begin the process of preparing for next year. She is hoping the local squad will be able to attend both the regional and state championships next fall.

"I think we are making the steps to where we need to be," Jones said. "We were just happy to bring a trophy back to Steamboat."

This year, the cheerleaders' trip to the regional championships was funded by a donation from First National Bank. The team is hoping to raise more money next year to make it to the state meet as well.

This year's team was made up of 15 cheerleaders including Kim Jones, Jessica Vernon, Lindsay Chotvacs, Kelly Jordan, Kiely, Val Finch, Jennifer Ostwalt, Elle Mann, Hannah Bowers, Nicole Curd, Amanda Enochs, Justine Warner, Vanessa Heinert and Marykate Nerney.

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