New Oxford High spirit coach Diane Topper has spent years trying to build her program. There have been tireless hours practicing, numerous competitions at the national level and, on Saturday at the Hersheypark Arena, it all came to a head.
New Oxford was named the first PIAA Medium Division Spirit champion.
"This is great," Topper said. "There is nothing else to say. It is a great feeling for the kids. We have practiced so hard to build a program and to have all that hard work pay off is
It was a state championship that has been years in the making finally came to fruition.
"I envisioned a tough tournament, but honestly," Topper said, "This is awesome. There are so many good teams here, but this is totally
The Colonials finished first in their preliminary round, advancing straight to the finals. They finished with a final round score of 80.83, which was eight points better than second-place North Allegheny.
"Coming from the prelims, we had a couple little bobbles," Topper said. "We had one show-and-go that didn't go and we were told our voices weren't loud enough. When we had some down time, we critiqued our routine a little and, honestly, we just had a ton of faith in these kids and they just needed to believe in themselves. They did and they nailed a perfect routine."
The Colonials showcased a high octane aerial assault that included throws launching girls more than 15 feet in the air. Their high energy got the crowd roaring as New Oxford finished its routine.
"It felt awesome," Bryce Culp said immediately after their routine in the finals. "To hear the crowd go crazy like that gets us even more fired up and want to throw higher. We couldn't have scripted the finals any better."
After the second-place team was announced the Colonials knew they were state champions, but stayed calm until PIAA officials said the words, "State Champion, New Oxford," and then the Colonials erupted in celebration.
"On the mat, I siad it is so great to hear New Oxford won," Topper said. "State champion, that sounds awesome."
Colonial cheerleader Andrew Wilfong agreed.
"It feels great," he said. "I have never been a state champion before. It is an awesome feeling. I feel so much pride. We put in a ton of hard work and it is paying off. When they went from third to second, I was thinking. 'Please, don't let us be second,' and when we heard the other team's name and then ours announced, we just went nuts."
New Oxford freshman Sammi Loy knows the Colonials have something special. Aside from talent, they have a ton of trust in each other, vital when she is being thrown 15 feet in the air and trusting to be caught.
"We practice those throws a ton in practice," Loy said. "I know they are going to catch me. To have a routine like we did with the energy that was out there was awesome."
Spring Grove also represented the Hanover area in the competition and they too were in the Medium Division. The Rockets advanced straight through to the finals with a stellar performance in the preliminaries. It was their routine in the finals, though, that had head coach Jackie Morehead so excited.
"Our girls did totally amazing and nailed a perfect routine," she said. "No mistakes at all. We just came back from a national competition where we were named grad champions and won our division. These girls are astounding."
The Rockets finished sixth out of 24 teams with a score of 65. Only 2.17 points separated sixth from third.
"We felt like we left everything out there regardless of what the judges say," Spring Grove cheerleader Jenna Jacoby said.
After years of trying to get the cheerleaders to have a state tournament, Saturday was a victory.
"It feels great to be out there," Spring Grove cheerleader Courtney Perry said. "Last year, it wasn't considered a sport and now we are competing for a state title."
New Oxford hopes to use the momentum it gained on Saturday and carry it next weekend when it will compete in the UCA Nationals in Florida.
As for Saturday, they are going to bask in two words -- state champion.