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Cheer places third at state

Mal Meston, Sports Editor

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Making history and breaking school records.

Simply speaking, that was the Shores competitive cheer team.

“We knew this team was something special from the very beginning even before we competed for the first time,” coach Amanda Heethuis said. “From day one, they had drive, respect, and were very coachable.”

That “something special” resulted in the team’s best finish in school history – third place at the Div. 2 state finals on March 4 at the DeltaPlex in Grand Rapids. At that competition, Shores set school records in each round as well as the final score (778.94).

Along the way to the top three state finish, the Sailors took first place titles at city, conference, districts, and regionals.

“In the beginning of the season, we knew we wanted to place in the top four spots at state finals, but we also knew that was the end goal; in order to reach it, we had to meet a lot of smaller goals along the way,” Heethuis said.

While the third-place state finish was a team achievement, Heethuis said the eight seniors were crucial to the success.

“Every member of our team was crucial,” said Heethuis, who led the team to seventh place in the state in 2016. “However, our seniors were outstanding. Four of them – Trisha Bennett, Autumn Lambert, Sydney Pieczynski and Braxton Wasilewski – have been on the team for four years, so this was their third trip back to state finals. They were able to offer a lot of advice and insight about what it was going to take to get to that state finals mat and the girls really respected them. All eight of our seniors will be greatly missed; they added so much to our team, but because of their leadership and the work ethic of the underclassmen, we’ll be able to continue having successful seasons because of the legacy each senior class leaves behind.”

They were able to achieve such high expectations through their hard work and dedication. Practicing five days a week, working on all of the rounds, did not give them much time to think about anything other than cheer.

“All of our hard work showed when we beat all of our high scores of all three rounds at the state finals,” said sophomore Olivia Curtice, who is a flyer. “I knew going into every competition that I had to hit all of my stunts and not drop anything, but I always had my team and coaches by my side to help me along the way.”

The Sailors made history, and it was all because of the hard work and having the ability to be coachable throughout the season.

“I just hope this team knows how much I appreciate their coachability, kindness, dedication, and personalities; each of these girls is so important to me,” Heethuis said. “They accomplished so much, and I am incredibly proud to be their coach.”

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