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Leading cheers, competition

Squad to compete in Grand Junction

Jessica Vernon and her teammates on the Steamboat Springs cheerleading squad have been under a bit of pressure in the past week.

“It’s been a pretty stressful week,” Vernon said. “But I know we will come together by Friday.”

Cheerleading coach Kathy Jones also is confident that the months of hard work and a few final adjustments to fine-tune her squad’s routine will pay off with another top finish at the National Cheerleading Association’s Rocky Mountain Regional.

“This is an extremely talented group of girls,” Jones said. “I think we have something special this year.”

The team will travel to Grand Junction’s Mesa State College this weekend for the National Cheerleading Association’s Rocky Mountain Regional — it’s one of two major events for the squad this year.

The Grand Junction competition will begin at 10 a.m. today and continue through 4 p.m. Saturday.

In 2002, the Steamboat team took first place overall at the regional. It also earned a first place in best use of tumbling. Cheerleaders Kim Jones and Hannah Bowers also earned first-place honors.

Kim Jones was awarded for best cheer, and Bowers earned an award for best leaps and turns.

The finishes were the best ever for a core of seniors who have been together for the past three years.

But along with the top finishes come some big expectations for 2003.

The Sailors will be led by seniors Vernon, Jones, Lindsay Marias, Kristy Chotvacs and Kelly Jordan. All five were part of last year’s team that finished first.

But despite the top finishes, Vernon said none of girls on this year’s team was taking this competition lightly.

“We don’t have it in the bag,” Vernon said. “If we want to win again, we will need to step it up.”

Vernon is expecting well-trained teams to bring their best routines to Saturday’s event. She said the Sailors realize that every team that comes to Grand Junction wants to take the title away from Steamboat.

“We just want to go out and do our best,” she said. “Sure we want to win, but if we do our best, I think everybody will be happy.”

The only downside to this weekend’s event for the squad is that it conflicts with the Sailors state semifinal football playoff appearance.

“We are really happy for them,” Vernon said. “I think everybody is sad that we can’t go down and cheer for them. We are all hoping that they can win, so we will be able to cheer for them next weekend.”

— To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com


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