By Utkash Dubey
The varsity cheer team took first place at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Cheerleading Competition, a regional tournament for coed high school teams on Sept. 24. In addition, their success at the competition qualified them for the United Spirit Association (USA) national level competition, which will take place in Anaheim, California, towards the end of March next year.
Under the direction of head coach Dan Callanta and with the addition of coach Andy Logan, the cheer team decided to be a competition squad for the season, rather than a regular high school cheer team that participates strictly in high school related activities, such as sports and rallies. Their entrance into the competition field allowed the cheer team to strike a more competitive edge, compete against other cheer teams at tournaments, and be assessed and placed for what they do.
Criticism and feedback from the evaluation by the competition judging panel included “more gymnastics, guy-girl partner stunts and more creativity needed in the stunt sequences.” “Basically, the team will be going through rigorous training to improve their strength and flexibility,” Callanta said.
According to junior and captain Emily Cottle, the cheer team was hoping to qualify for nationals, but they weren’t sure how they were going to perform. “We hadn’t competed in a while, [and] as far as I know, this is the first time that Gunn’s [varsity] cheer team will be going to nationals,” Cottle said. For the national competition, the Cottle and the team plan to work on increasing the level of difficulty in their stunts and improving their overall cohesiveness. “Even after qualifying for nationals, we still want more practice competing, so we will continue to compete in regional competitions,” Cottle said.
Additionally, USA All-Star senior Tasuku Hirakawa participated as a base for the regional competition. Hirakawa and the team did not have much preparation for the event. “We were [still] able to put together so much in such a short manner and be able to win first place and advance to Nationals in Anaheim in late March of 2012, [which] shows that we have it in us to be the best that we can,” Hirakawa said.
According to Callanta, qualifying for USA Nationals necessitates a Superior Rating with a score of 80 or above out of a possible 100. The cheer team achieved a total score of 85 and received a bid to nationals after becoming the regional champions in the Varsity Coed Show Cheer Division. This is the first competition win that has allowed the team to become a competition squad.
The cheer team plans on participating in a Classic level tournament to increase their scores for nationals, as well as prepare them for the cheering to come. This competition will take place Dec. 12 in Tracy.