By Steve Huffman
Angie Chrismon, coach of the South Rowan cheerleading team, said her squad got beat by both Salisbury and West Rowan in a December competition.
So in preparing for Saturday’s All-Rowan County Cheerleading Championships, Chrismon challenged her team.
“We changed some things and added some difficulties,” she said. “I couldn’t have been more proud of the way the girls responded. Everything we talked about, they remembered on the floor.”
As a result, South Rowan claimed first place in Saturday’s championships, in the process taking home the Jessica Grady Trophy.
The competition, held at the Hurley Family YMCA, couldn’t have been much tighter.
South won with 89.66 points, followed by last year’s champion East Rowan with 88.66, Carson with 87, West Rowan with 86.66 and Salisbury with 86.5.
North Rowan didn’t compete, though two of the school’s cheerleaders put on a cheering demonstration.
The Grady Cup is a rotating award. The winning school keeps it for a year before bringing it back and trying to win the cup again at the next year’s competition.
The cup is named for Jessica Grady, a West Rowan cheerleader from 2002 to 2004 who was killed in an automobile accident.
Saturday’s competition also served as the venue at which the All-Rowan County Cheerleaders for 2007-2008 were announced.
Coaches from each school nominated their top cheerleaders and submitted videotapes for judging prior to Saturday’s championships.
Of the 20 cheerleaders nominated for the All-Rowan County squad, the 10 winners are:
– Whitney Corriher of West Rowan High.
– Ashley Faine, South Rowan High.
– Charlotte Brown, East Rowan High.
– Cessily Burris, South Rowan High.
– Melissa Roman, East Rowan High.
– Ashley Goldston, South Rowan High.
– Hayley Mikkelson, Salisbury High.
– Kristin Shelton, West Rowan High.
– Mackenzie Sexton, South Rowan High.
– McKenzie Sherrill, Carson High.
In addition, Whitney Corriher was named “Player of the Year.”
This marks the second consecutive year that Corriher, a junior at West Rowan who has been cheering since the age of 3, has been named Player of the Year.
She totaled 162 points, out-distancing her closest competitor by a whopping 30 points.
Chrismon, South’s coach, said she was immensely proud that her team placed all four of its nominees on the All-Rowan County squad. She said South was the only school that had all of its nominees named All-Rowan County.
Chrismon said cheerleading has come a long way since the days of girls standing on the sidelines at football games and doing little more than chanting, “Sack that quarterback!”
She noted that today’s cheerleaders flip, tumble, fly, jump, swing, strut, stack, slide, dance, pump, twist, clap, grunt and yell.
And then some.
Chrismon also noted that cheerleading is so competitive that injuries are a frequent part of the sport. She said South lost two of its junior cheerleaders to shoulder injuries last fall and those girls were replaced by a sophomore and a freshman who were brought up from the junior varsity team.
“They carried their weight here today,” Chrismon said of those cheerleaders called up from the jayvee squad.
South Rowan didn’t compete a year ago, the first for the All-Rowan County Competitions.
South’s assistant coach is Angela London and the team trains once a week at Stars Cheerleading in Salisbury under the tutelage of Sara Bethea. All three of the coaches were cheerleaders at South during their high school days.
Despite the fact that her team won Saturday, Chrismon said the girls’ performance wasn’t absolutely perfect.
She said team members were guilty of a few “touchdowns” where their hands inadvertently touched the mat.
“That’s not the kind of touchdown where you get six points,” Chrismon quickly noted, laughing.
Still, despite some minute flaws, “They were sharp today,” Chrismon said.
Mackenzie Sexton, a senior at South who was a member of the All-Rowan County team, said the squad competes in a handful of competitions throughout the year, but none bigger than Saturday’s.
Competing against their closest rivals in front of hundreds of fans was fairly nerve-wracking, Sexton said.
“Everyone thinks South is really good,” she said. “There were big expectations for us here today.”
Saturday’s competition was headed by Jessica Moore. Nationally certified judges selected the winning teams.
Moore noted that members of the All-Rowan County team were selected by judges from outside the county.
Prior to the All-Rowan Cheerleading Championships, the YMCA hosted the fourth annual Carolina Cupid Classic that included teams from as far away as West Virginia.
Sandy Flowers, director of the YMCA, said about 1,000 people were on hand for all or parts of Saturday’s events, making the day one of the biggest of the year for the facility.
Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or email@example.com.