Laker Cheer tumbles to the top at state championships and nationals

Nidhi Nair, Editor-in-Chief

From Feb. 24 to 25 in Anaheim, California, the Laker Cheer team ranked eighth in the nation at the USA Spirit Nationals competition against 29 other teams from across the country.


“Competing at nationals was really a dream come true,” said senior Kayla Rogers. “I have been doing cheer since sixth grade, and every year I would see the high school team go to California to compete, and I just knew that I wanted to do that as well.”


Nationals was overall an enjoyable experience for Rogers; “I loved competing there, it was really fun and I loved spending time with my friends and representing my school. It was definitely a little nerve wracking knowing you are competing with teams from all over the country and not knowing what you’re going up against, but that was a good motivator for me to do my best and show what we are able to do.”


This year’s national ranking was extra special for the team due to the fact that Laker Cheer had not participated in the national championships for the past three years. Since it was everyone’s first time competing at nationals, the team entered the tournament with excitement and optimism. “We exceeded our expectations by winning eighth because our only goal was just to make finals, and when we competed that first day for a spot in the finals, we didn’t think that we would achieve that goal,” Rogers explained. “When the announcer said Lake Oswego was moving on we were so happy and relieved that we met our goal. The next goal was just to do our best the next day, and we did that!”


While training and preparing for the tournament, the team experienced several ups and downs. Yet overall, Laker Cheer showed many significant improvements compared to the beginning of the year. “I think our team has grown so much this year,” said sophomore Zoe Lok, “we have bonded so much and we learned so many new skills.”


The team solidified their 6A traditional routine by practicing with the Tualatin and Sweet Home cheer teams while in California. Rogers said, “We were able to perform for each other which was super cool and good to see what each team is doing, and how we can improve.”


By acquiring new notable stunting techniques such as full downs, arabesque and baskets, the team further progressed their stunting abilities as well. “We lost a lot of really talented cheerleaders last year, but we’ve definitely built back up to high difficulty skills,” said junior Maddie Vera.


“It feels so good knowing that we did our best, and the outcome was a representation of that,” summarized Rogers. “I learned during this whole experience that you need to push yourself in order to get better and do your absolute best! I love my team so much and we wouldn’t be able to place this well without each other. As a senior, this was my last cheer competition, so it is amazing to end my career with the title of being eighth in the nation!”


In addition to dominating the national competition, the cheer team also competed against 17 other teams in their division at the OSAA State Championships on Feb. 11 at Oregon City High School. There, they earned a major victory for the Laker Nation, successfully bringing home a fifth place win in the novice division.


“We were super happy to place,” said Vera. “We had a really hard year last year, so getting that trophy was amazing.”


The team entered the competition with a vast amount of new skills, stunts and techniques that numerous hours of practice prepared them for. “We performed our 6A traditional routine,” said Lok. “Our routine was much sharper, cleaner and louder than our past routines. We definitely were given more skills this year as well.”


Prior to performing their routine, the team participated in a fair amount of visualizing, mat talks and team bonding to stay calm and relaxed. “We just repetitively worked on the routine to build our stamina and to make sure we knew exactly how we were going to perform it,” Vera stated.


The experience of competing at the state level had a significant contrast with the cheer team’s previous tournaments. Vera competed in the state championships for a third time, yet this particular competition differed from the past due to the 2021 championships being virtual as a result of COVID-19. “State is always a shock because it’s so much bigger than every other competition,” Vera commented. “Their set up was really great this year though.”


Lok, however, competed at state for the first time this year. “It was a very fun experience, and I would definitely go through all the hard times again to experience it,” stated Lok. “I was very happy and emotional when I found out we got fifth place. It was crazy to me that we got fifth place at state. But I was also a bit sad thinking about the seniors and how they won’t be with us next year. But I was very glad I was able to put everything I could on the mat.”


Overall, the LOHS cheer team is ecstatic about their victories, looking forward to enhancing their abilities even more in the future. “We’re building a really good program and I’m really proud of this team,” said Vera. “I learned that hard work really does pay off, and I gained relationships with my teammates. I could definitely call them my family.”


“I’m very glad I joined cheer,” concluded Lok. “Everyone is always so supportive of each other. Being able to be on the 6A traditional team is such a blessing. I pushed myself to my limits, and even though we go through very hard practices, the end result is very rewarding.”