On Saturday, February 21, Gull Lake competitive cheer traveled to rival St. Joseph’s gym early in the morning to compete at District Finals. 14 teams, from across the area, came to compete, all knowing that the top four teams were going to make it out of districts and onto the Regional competition.
Prior to the District competition some of the top teams, notably St. Joseph, Thornapple Kellogg and Gull Lake, had been scoring relatively close to each other. In years prior, Thornapple Kellogg’s skill made them out of reach for Gull Lake, this year that was different; Gull Lake had beaten the team at the Delta Plex competition the weekend before districts.
“I felt that we did the best that we could do in round one and round two and that round three had some small errors,” senior Hannah Young said about their performance. “The group was really focused in round three, we could have brought more fire to our round.”
In round one the team scored a 221.6, and round two a 206.2. After two stunt groups dropped stunts in round three they scored a 292.7. All scores combined gave them a total score of 727.36.
After round one and two Gull Lake was in first place, beating Thornapple Kellogg by a total of five points. Round three dropped their score enough that Thornapple Kellogg won with a total score of 730.90, a three point win. Along with Thornapple Kellogg and Gull Lake, St. Joseph and Mattawan took the other two Regional qualifying spots.
“ [Getting second] honestly felt good,” Young said. “Last year we didn’t get second and only being three points behind [Thornapple Kellogg] makes us feel really good because there is a chance of us being able to beat them at regionals.”
Initially the team was upset about getting second place, it had been their goal to be the first Gull Lake team to win District Champions. Young reflected in hindsight that she wishes they hadn’t been so down about the placement because they hadn’t performed that well the year before–they had gotten third–and it was improvement; also they were one of the four teams to continue onto Regionals, when ten other teams were left facing the fact that their season had just ended.
“When you’re a senior, the idea of the season ending really does affect you,” Young said. “ It really shows how close to the end of the season you really are and how many people are leaving and how many people are being left behind.
The Regional competition takes place at Mona Shores the following Saturday, February 27, and is run much like Districts, where only the top four make it out to the next competition: State Finals. Last year the team placed 10 out of 12, their original seeded spot. This year they are hoping to make it out and onto States, focusing on teams like Mona Shores and Thornapple Kellogg, as their main competition. In the week of practice time that they have, the team plans on making changes to round three.
“We are doing our practice schedule backwards, starting with round three, to really get in a lot of work there because it’s what we’re most worried about,” Young said.
Along with changing their practice schedule, they are stripping round three to “help stunts look cleaner, tighter and have better floor mobility and score better in execution.” They are also facing extra conditioning for every dropped stunt, body check, and awkward formation movement; a fear tactic encouraging them to “hit” their rounds.
“ I know a lot of us have the feeling of wanting to go to States,” Young said. “In the back of our heads, though, we know the season could end [after this week] and it’s going to hit us out of nowhere. Our coaches are keeping us positive by always telling us that they believe in us and that we have earned a spot in the top four at regionals to go to State.”