‘Sense of spirit’ | SteamboatToday.com

‘Sense of spirit’

Steamboat cheerleading takes ninth in state

Dave Shively

The Steamboat Springs High School cheerleading team won ninth place out of 36 teams at the Class 4A State Spirit Championships in Denver.

Steamboat Springs cheerleading co-captain Angela Palaniuk had the stunt spotted.

The pyramid was set, and the girls lofted the team’s other captain, Liz Handing, up onto one leg in front of 2,000 fans at the Denver Coliseum for Saturday’s Class 4A State Spirit Championships.

“We nailed it,” Palaniuk said. “We looked around at each other and smiled, and everyone else in the crowd could see how much we were enjoying it.”

Having practiced the routine since August and honing it at the National Cheerleading Association Rocky Mountain Regionals on Nov. 18 in Grand Junction, the Steamboat girls executed the competition routine to near perfection on Saturday afternoon.

The routine was judged on criteria that awards tumbling, crowd involvement, stunts, cheering and dance. Going against a competitive field of many larger Class 4A schools, the Steamboat girls earned a score of 86.64.

That won them ninth place out of 36 teams, just shy of cracking the top six and a trip to the final round.

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“We didn’t have any deductions in our score,” Handing said. “We hit everything we needed to. Our tumbling timing was a little off, but to get ninth place was amazing, a complete shock.”

As one of eight seniors on the team, Handing recalled making the trip to state as a freshman, Steamboat’s only other appearance at the championships. She thought it was the perfect way for the group of seniors to finish their cheerleading careers.

The competition also marked the end of the road for coach Kathy Jones, who will finish her seventh year coaching the team.

“Kathy was so ecstatic,” Handing said, proud to be part of Jones’ most successful team. “We’re glad to be her winning team. She’s been so supportive the whole season.”

Jones said she “couldn’t be any happier” with her girls, considering her team was up against many larger programs with access to significant gymnastic training.

“They’re all very athletic girls and have great grades, to boot,” Jones said.

The competition does not mark the end of the cheerleading season. Jones plans to stay on and coach the team’s practices and organize fundraisers through the remainder of the school year.

2006-07 Steamboat Springs cheerleading team

Corri Bradbury

Genna Bradley

Mataya Flaharty

Christie Good

Liz Handing (co-captain)

Sara Handing

Journee Heinert

Lauren Letson

Mandy Luchini

Angela Palaniuk (co-captain)

Julia Pettiford

Nicole Rende

Alexie Rusk

Madison Struble

Doran Walton

Coach Kathy Jones