Eagles Flying High

East Rock Advances To State Competition

Posted: November 5, 2012

ELKTON — A hush fell over the East Rockingham High School gymnasium as the public-address announcer had only one team left on his list of schools advancing to the Group A state cheerleading competition.

Fortunately, for the home faithful, the announcer blurted, “The East Rock Eagles,” which led to an ear-shrilling eruption.

East Rockingham won the Region B cheerleading competition and advanced to this weekend’s state tournament, which will be held at the VCU Siegel Center in Richmond.

“As soon as our name was called, I can’t stop smiling,” Region B Cheerleader of the Year Anna Talbot said.

East Rock got off to a great start in the competition with a clean routine in the first round.

“It was one of the most solid routines we have hit yet,” Talbot said. “I knew we were going to make it through to the second round.”

The Eagles performed with a high degree of difficulty in the second performance but looked sloppy at times.

“The second one, I didn’t have as much confidence in. But I’ll never doubt my team again,” Talbot quickly added.

ERHS will be joined at the state tournament by Region B runner-up Central, third-place Clarke County and fourth-place Wilson Memorial, one of the Eagles’ Shenandoah District foes.

East Rock won the regional tournament after placing second  in its district tournament to Luray. The Bulldogs  made the cut to six, but did not hear their name called as one of the final four teams.

The competition started with nine teams. After all teams performed a nearly three-minute routine, judges narrowed down the field to six teams. Those six teams performed again and judges took another deliberation break to decide on the top four teams. Names were read in reverse order so the Eagles were either going to hear their name and be regional champs or go home empty-handed.

Talbot admitted she couldn’t take the long wait.

“I didn’t fight off any nerves. I just cried,” she said.

Six East Rock cheerleaders made the All-Region teams – three on the first team and three on the second. Seniors Shay Dickenson and Ashley Bragg joined Talbot on the first team. In addition, ERHS coach RyAnn Dean was named Region B Coach of the Year.

“I thought we put our best out on the mat both times,” Dean said.

Talbot confessed there was a special significance to winning the regional title in the Eagles’ home gym.

“It’s definitely more exciting and we feel more adrenaline,” she said. “It’s just awesome to be here on the black mat with the red strips.”

Dean said the Eagles will “practice hard all week” to prepare for the state tournament.

As regional champions, the Eagles will enter as one of the favorites to bring home the state title, but East Rock knows it can’t get ahead of itself.

“I don’t want to say anything too exciting,” Talbot said about next week’s expectations. “I’m just so thankful we are going to states.”