MACOMB TOWNSHIP — The Macomb Dakota cheer team was victorious in its first competition of the season — a Macomb Area Conference crossover meet that took place Dec. 11 at Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse.
Cougars coach Michela Worthy said she was happy with that performance, which saw the team tally 732.16 points in the win, but she believes the team still had a lot of work to do before its next competition — the Competitive Cheer Coaches Association of Michigan Scholarship competition, which took place Dec. 14 at Rochester Hills Stoney Creek High.
Dakota finished second at the CCCAM meet and was just 2.04 points behind first place Rochester High School.
“We did have the highest round-three score of the day — 311.4 points,” Worthy said Dec. 16. “That’s the current highest round-three score in Division 1 and in the state.”
Worthy knows her team can shine this season, as Dakota captured a Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 district title last season before placing sixth at a D-1 regional. Worthy said performing at its best has been incorporated into the team motto.
“Our theme this year is ‘Challenge accepted,’” Worthy said. “We are challenging ourselves to work harder, give our all and do our best to achieve our goals.”
One of those goals is to advance to the 2014 MHSAA D-1 state finals, set for 6 p.m. Feb. 28, 2014, at the Delta Plex in Grand Rapids. No Macomb County team has won a state title. Sterling Heights Stevenson placed second at the 2011 D-1 state finals.
Last season’s district title was the first in the Dakota program’s history.
“I had several girls on (last year’s) team who are on the current team,” Worthy said. “They know how it feels to fall just short (of the state finals). They are hungry this year. Every girl on the team must be committed to giving 100 percent every day.”
Worthy has a veteran-laden team with 14 seniors. The Dakota team also features five juniors, five sophomores and one freshman.
Worthy said several of the seniors, including Heather Colby, Reily Malczewski, Alexandra Camaj and Jessica Wuolukka, have shown the strongest leadership skills.
“All four girls lead by example,” Worthy said. “They expect the very best out of themselves and their teammates. They hold (everyone) accountable.”
Another goal Dakota has set is to win the MAC Red Division. The Cougars finished third, second and third, respectively, in three MAC Red Divisional meets last season. Sterling Heights Stevenson won the first MAC Red Divisional meet last season. Utica Eisenhower won meets two and three.
“We need to stay focused on the material that we bring to the competition,” Worthy said. “We need to take every single practice and use each minute to work our cheer rounds to make them the best we possibly can.
“We need to bring the fire, excitement and energy every time we step on the cheer mat.”
Dakota next hits the mat for the first of three MAC Red Divisional meets, set for 6 p.m. Jan. 8 at Utica Ford II high school.