Monday, November 22, 2004
For the past four years, Hayden cheerleader Shandal Stees has hounded her coach for a chance to compete.
When she was a sophomore, her coach Shannon Valora promised Stees she would get the chance to take part in a competition before she graduated.
But Stees had her doubts.
She spent her junior year cheering for a number of Tiger sports, but the season passed and the cheerleaders didn't attempt a regional, state or national event.
"I wasn't sure it would happen up until a couple of months ago," the senior admits.
But last Saturday at the Western Regional Championships in Grand Junction, coach Valora came through. After practicing for three weeks, the Tigers would get their first shot at competition.
Stees and the other six members of the cheerleading squad made the most of their opportunity by placing first in the small school division for squads with 7-10 members.
"She's been with me for all four years," Valora said of Stees. "I promised her we would go to a competition and I kept my promise."
In the past, the Tiger cheerleaders have limited their efforts to supporting many of the high school's other varsity teams. In the fall they take the floor at volleyball matches and can be found inspiring the crowd on the sideline of football games. They also cheer at basketball games and wrestling matches in the winter.
But for the first time Saturday, the girls stepped into a new arena and competed against four other school's including Paonia, Roaring Fork and Montrose.
After their 2 minute, 30 second routine, the Tigers earned the top score of the day. Paonia, which placed at state last year, was second, Roaring Fork came in third and Montrose was fourth.
"We were scared of (Paonia)," Stees said. "They are very good, but they didn't get their stunts together."
Stees said Hayden may not have been the best with its dance on Saturday, but the team was very good with its stunts. She thinks it was the difference.
"I don't think our skill level was as high as some of the other teams, but our girls all worked hard and we ended up winning," Valora said.
Valora said Janie Brenner, a coach from Moffat County, helped choreograph the Tigers' routine. On Saturday Stees, Raechel Murray, Desiray Barnes, Alicia Hall, Lauren Berrien, Kyla Beard and Jacci Gilbert performed the routine to perfection and earned the top score of the day in the small school division.
Stees also competed in the best individual cheerleader competition and Gilbert competed in the best jumps competition at the event.