Dragons, Cougars and Irish move on to DeltaPlex March 4

By: Sue Teggart | Rochester Post | Published March 2, 2011

 The Lake Orion High competitive cheer squad performs during the Feb. 19 district. The Dragons won the Feb. 26 regional at home to earn a bid to the state meet at the DeltaPlex in Grand Rapids March 5.

The Lake Orion High competitive cheer squad performs during the Feb. 19 district. The Dragons won the Feb. 26 regional at home to earn a bid to the state meet at the DeltaPlex in Grand Rapids March 5.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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LAKE ORION — It was a historic day for the local competitive cheer squads that competed in a Division 1 regional at Lake Orion High Feb. 26.

Lake Orion — ranked No. 6 in the state in D-1 — turned in a top performance, scoring 812.2696 points to claim the regional championship.

Joining the Dragons in advancing to the state finals thanks to their top-four finish are Rochester Hills Stoney Creek (811.1720), Southgate Anderson (807.3336) and Utica Stevenson (800.9042).

The state championships get under way March 4 at the DeltaPlex in Grand Rapids.

Lake Orion coach Nancy deAvila, whose team last won a regional in 2003, felt this district and regional — the Dragons hosted both competitions — was the toughest in the state.

“We have such a tough district, so it’s so hard just to get to this competition,” said a teary-eyed deAvila. “It’s amazing to be able to do this at home. It’s hard work to put on these competitions, and to do it back-to-back is even more stressful. It’s all worth it, because I know how comfortable the kids are in our gym.”

The Dragons posted a record-high team score with their regional routine and set high scores for the season in all three rounds — 234.2, 255.6696 and 322.4.

“It was a record-setting day all-around,” deAvila said.

Defend the den
Stoney Creek will have the chance to defend its state title, finishing second in the loaded regional. It’s a road they’re familiar with — a Rochester-area team has finished in the top two D-1 regional spots for 16 of the past 17 years.

Stoney Creek also earned season-high scores in all three rounds after posting 234.5, 254.2720 and 322.4.

Coach Tricia Williams summed up the regional by saying, “any given day, it’s anybody’s game.”

“It really depends on all three rounds and the consistency of the rounds,” Williams said. “Being in the district we were in, it’s hard to get out of the district. Now coming to this regional, there are five state-contending teams, and only four move on. We knew coming in it was going to be ridiculously close, but all we could do was control our own team and make it our best.”

“I couldn’t be prouder about my team’s performance,” Williams continued. “Our big thing was to improve on last week, and add more energy and really show the passion that we have. All three rounds had it.”

Fighting to the finish
Amid the cheers and celebration, tears flowed freely from cheerleaders from Rochester High. Exhausted embraces ensued.

For Rochester, this year marks the first time it will not be making the trek to the state finals.

Rochester finished fifth — tallying 800.1456 points — .75 points behind Stevenson.

Rochester last missed a state final in 1982, before legendary coach Susan Wood took over the program. Since the MHSAA adopted the sport in 1994, Rochester has finished in the top four at every state meet — dating back to 1989, when the squad won its first title in the former Michigan Cheer Coaches Association — and holds the record for most state titles with 12.

“I’m very proud of my team,” said Wood while fighting back tears after her squad’s Round 3 performance. “I thought their performance was great. The years are long gone where we could win a regional and move on without too much worry. And it has been like that for a while. It’s exciting for the sport, but it makes it hard as a coach.”

“To get here, the stress is on getting to the next week,” DeAvila said, empathizing with the Falcons. “We’ve been in the position of not going forward, so I know how heartbreaking it is for Rochester.”

Rochester Adams earned a bid to the regional round after being in the shadows of the neighboring state powerhouse teams. The Highlanders, who made their first regional appearance since 2008, finished sixth with 795.3424 points.

Adams coach Courtney Kezlarian said she was proud of the strides her program made and the team’s desire to push the season a step further than last year.

“This group of girls and this team, there’s something different about them,” Kezlarian said. “Their drive, and their belief, passion and persistence have really made a difference in our program.”

In D-3, No. 3-ranked Pontiac Notre Dame Preparatory earned second place in the regional at Goodrich, scoring 755.5382 points to advance to the state meet, competing March 5.

District review
Rochester led the charge at the Feb. 19 D-1 district at Lake Orion, winning its fourth straight district title after collecting 808.3256 points. The host Dragons followed closely with 806.2360 points, while defending state champion Stoney Creek (802.0768) and Adams (792.1382) grabbed the other regional-qualifying spots.

In D-3, NDP finished second behind Richmond High at the district at Yale High with 757.14 points.

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