Cheer Team Takes Top Honors at Wake County Competition

%28Front+Row+Left+to+Right%29%3A+Brooke+Flores%2C+Rachael+Cheeseman%2C+Grace+Wilkins%2C+Mason+Blue+Walter%2C+Makenzie+Ray%2C+Hailey+Metcalf%2C+Kayla+Dautel%2C+Tali%27a+Manning%2C+Courtney+Campbell.+%0A%0A%28Back+Row+Left+to+right%29%3A+Carson+Hardy%2C+Alyssa+Burgess%2C+Grace+Bilski%2C+Chloe+Travis%2C+Brianna+Garcia%2C+Emily+Kallal%2C+Alexa+Hoffer%2C+Lexi+Bilski%2C+Sydney+Savage+

(Front Row Left to Right): Brooke Flores, Rachael Cheeseman, Grace Wilkins, Mason Blue Walter, Makenzie Ray, Hailey Metcalf, Kayla Dautel, Tali’a Manning, Courtney Campbell. (Back Row Left to right): Carson Hardy, Alyssa Burgess, Grace Bilski, Chloe Travis, Brianna Garcia, Emily Kallal, Alexa Hoffer, Lexi Bilski, Sydney Savage

Sydney Savage, Staff Reporter

The varsity cheer team successfully placed first Jan. 25 at the Wake County Cheer Championship in the large varsity division. Through their execution of skills, the team was able to grasp the top spot. 

Senior Lexi Bilski explains how the cheer team braces for their upcoming routine. 

“Before we take the mat, we go backstage and warm up all of our skills to ensure we are prepared to go on the floor, and then we have a team circle where we say encouraging things to hype the team up before the routine,” Bilski said. 

Robbin Faulkner, the varsity cheer coach, makes “hitting zero” the goal before the routine. 

“Well, ‘hit zero’ means no deduction. We are always talking about technique, technique, technique. Even when it doesn’t feel right, if you rely on your technique, you can save it, you can pull it out, and so that what it means to me to know that what we are doing as coaches is the right way,” Faulkner said. 

This flawless performance was a reward of its own for senior Alyssa Burgess. 

“Hitting zero means a lot considering this team has been through our own struggles,” Burgess said. 

The skills required to stunt and tumble differ from one another, but are both components of an elite routine. 

“Tumbling is when you do a series of flips. Tumbling Is very cool to watch and takes incredible skill from the individual,” Flores said. “Stunting requires a group of people called a stunt group. It includes two bases, a flyer and a backspot. Everyone’s job is super important and requires a ton of trust.” 

What happens before taking the mat can be the factor that gets a team to the top spot.  

“I think that how well our warmups went and how our mindset was as we walked onto the floor set us apart from other teams,” junior Hailey Metcalf said. 

Faulkner places the satisfaction of the team performance over being happy for herself. 

“It felt really good because I felt like we had worked really hard to put that routine on the floor, and it was the first time the team hit it, and so I was more proud of them than feeling good for myself. It was great,” Faulkner said. 

Though the season ended strong, it wasn’t always smooth sailing according to senior Racheal Cheeseman. 

“I did not expect to get first because our season was slow,” Cheeseman said. “We didn’t have the best one and were kicked down at a few other competitions.”

A cheer routine is composed of many different skills and elements. 

“In a two and a half minute routine, a lot happens. We first start out with our cheer, then music. During the music part we stunt, tumble and jump. Our routine is very complex and takes a ton of work from each of us,” Flores said.  

It takes a certain number of athletes to complete a successful performance.  

“Our team has about 18 people. It’s important to have a variety of people to support the different roles needed to perform a cheer routine,” Metcalf said. 

Compared to previous years, this cheer team showed more selflessness and worked as one to accomplish a singular goal, according to Faulkner. 

“I think there was more cohesiveness. With 20 something people, everybody is not going to be friends, and I don’t expect them to, but ultimately at the end, people did it for the team,” Faulkner said. “There wasn’t selfishness. There wasn’t any animosity that was on the floor. If we put it all aside, and we come to the floor, and we do it for the team, I think that’s when it clicks, and that’s what happened.”  

Cheer isn’t just school spirit to support other athletes and encourage fans.  

Metcalf said, “Cheerleading is more than just cheering for the football team; it’s a sport. We have to learn to balance weight between people, be able to lift, throw and hold each other in the air and move our body and muscles in so many ways throughout two and a half minutes of straight cardio.”