Pacers compete in the Small Traditional division, Lions in the Large Traditional division.
The Pacers proved themselves.
So did the Lions and Lakers.
In the end, the cheer teams at those three schools proved they’d earned their places among the state’s best at the 2023 Cheerleading State Championships, held on Saturday, Feb. 11, at Oregon City High School.
Here’s how each of the three teams performed at state.
The Pacers stepped up to place second among 17 teams in the Class 6A Small Traditional division, finishing with a score of 98.80 to trail only event-champion Newberg’s 108.50.
“Our team had the best performance of our year,” said Lakeridge coach Christine Langley. “Our energy was through the roof and the crowd reaction was priceless. … It’s an absolute honor to have placed second among all those amazing teams.”
Lakeridge — led by seniors Anna James, Ella Paulson, Emilie Croteau, Lindsey Goldberg and Vanessa Hanson — capped a stellar season that also included the following accomplishments:
• The Pacers placed first or second at every local competition prior to state.
• Lakeridge placed 16th out of 28 teams in the Intermediate Small Varsity Crowd Performance division and 19th out of 40 teams in the Medium Varsity Game Day division at the National Cheerleaders Association High School Nationals, held Jan. 20-23 in Dallas, Texas. The Pacers were one of just two Oregon teams that competed in the event, which featured teams from 16 different states.
Beyond all their successes in competition, however, the Pacers reveled in the camaraderie and friendships they built along the way.
“While winning an award is fun, the best part about state is our traditions,” Langley said, noting the team’s annual state breakfast where athletes share small gifts or notes for each person on the team. “The memories made from reading those notes or receiving a fun little treat are immeasurable. There are lots of tears and love spread. We always feel like a team, but that event is always memorable for all.”
Langley added that although the team will graduate five seniors, it also featured seven freshmen on its state team.
“The future is looking very bright for the Pacer cheerleaders,” Langley said.
The Lions made their presence felt at state, too, stepping up to place second among six teams in the Class 6A Large Traditional division with a score of 100.30, where they trailed only first-place Westview and its winning total of 107.20.
“The team did an incredible job at state,” said West Linn coach Shannon Maloney. “All season, we pushed to maintain a difficulty range of skills that kept us competitive and in the running for a top-three placement at state. We were up against some incredible competition and are thrilled with the performance that the team put on the mat that night.”
This year’s state team was led by senior team captains Megan Wilson and Ella Enquist, and the coaching staff of Maloney, assistant coach Lizzy Stice, assistant coach Deleena Sanchaeo, assistant tumbling coach Jacob Krebs, assistant coach Rose Luna and assistant coach Samantha James.
Over the course of the year, the Lions competed at McMinnville, USA Regionals, Lake Oswego, David Douglas and Tualatin, and the lessons learned at those venues set the stage for the team’s eventual success at state.
“At each venue, we received incredible feedback from the judges and reworked the routine to stay competitive,” Maloney said. “That physical preparation was key to our success, (but) the best part of our season was the mental preparation that we did when we performed during halftime of the boys basketball game on February 10th.
“This team rarely gets to show their elite skills to the community because of the difficult nature of stunts and tumbling and the mats that are required to perform them. We were over the moon to be able to share our performance with their peers, parents and community that night. What a treat for us.”
In addition to their success on the mats, West Linn senior Maura Gilday won an OCCA academic scholarship of $1,000. Next up, the Lions will travel to Anaheim, California, on Feb. 24-25 to compete at USA Spirit Nationals in the Varsity Medium Show Cheer Division against teams from around the country.
The Lakers were strong at state, too, eventually finishing fifth among 17 teams in the 6A Small Traditional division with a score of 94.30 points.
“Our team performed their very best at state and hit a clean, sharp routine,” said Lake Oswego coach Danica Buttkus. “While we may not have had the most difficulty, we aimed for good execution and did just that. The energy our team brought was through the roof.”
Lake Oswego was led this year by a trio of senior team captains — Kayla Rogers, Sadie Smith and Vega Bell — and scored 33.60 in Building Skills, 33.20 in Tumbling/Jumps and 27.50 in Overall Routine.
In addition to all their success, the Lakers celebrated through team-building and tradition.
“State week is always full of traditions for our team, including box lunches, themed practices and a team dinner the night before state,” Buttkus said.
Next up, the Lakers will end their season when they travel to Anaheim, California, on Feb. 24-25 to compete at USA Spirit Nationals competition.