Steamboat Springs High School cheerleaders return from nationals |

Steamboat Springs High School cheerleaders return from nationals

Luke Graham

The Steamboat Springs High School cheerleading team recently returned from the national competition in Orlando, Fla.

— Sydney Finkbohner can recall her freshman year and what she wanted to accomplish with cheerleading.

There were many goals, many things she wanted to do. But there was one thing that was the ultimate goal: She wanted to compete at nationals in Florida.

It was a lofty goal, but Finkbohner and her teammates realized their dream after competing Saturday in Orlando, Fla.

"I mean, the competition was amazing," Finkbohner, now a senior, said. "Just the fact that we were able to be there, it was worth every single fundraiser and every single car wash. Everything we did, it was worth it. It's crazy that it's over. It was amazing."

The Steamboat Springs High School cheerleading team took 18 members to the national competition in Florida. The team left Feb. 7 and returned Monday.

The team had qualified for nationals by finishing third at the UCA Mile High regionals in November.

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In Florida, Steamboat saw its best competition of the year. The team competed in the coed Division II competition for schools with less than 1,600 students.

Steamboat competed Saturday morning. The team scored high in the cheer portion of its routine, but several errors in the music portion caused the team to miss the finals. The cheer and music portions are scored by different panels of judges.

"I've never seen them perform as well," assistant coach Angela Palaniuk said. "Their energy was outstanding. I saw things I didn't know they had in them."

Despite not making the finals, Finkbohner said the experience was well worth it.

She said there was some frustration that the team didn't advance but said that the overwhelming feeling was that it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"We were all so excited," she said. "It was a really awesome experience to go out and perform like that. It was like nothing we've ever done before."

Those who competed included Allison Williams, Brandi Salazar, Brooke Bumgarner, Carly Hanley, Colton Lewer, Connor O’Brien, Guerin Lewis, Casey Williams, Annie Martin, Kate Jankoski, Abby Burns, Miranda Salky, Finkbohner, Taylor Hansen, Kiayvah Ondrey, Reagan Mertz, Ainslee Yeager and Reina Salky.

Palaniuk said she wouldn't be surprised if future teams make the national competition their goal, as well.

"I think there is definitely a drive to see that they can get there," she said. "It's all up to the team. It's a huge amount of fundraising and dedication to go to nationals."

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email

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