HHS, ERHS Snare Titles
Streaks Beat 2011 Champ
Posted: November 5, 2012
MONETA – Despite competing in gymnastics since the age of 3, Harrisonburg High School sophomore Brooke Cobb still gets plenty nervous before being hoisted high into the air for stunts as a first-year competition cheerleader.
As a team, with the help of a hand-slapping song from their days on the elementary school playground, the Blue Streaks won the battle of nerves at the Region III tournament.
Not only was Harrisonburg the last team to compete in the first round and finals, but HHS was also the last school to hear its name called each time, dramatically winning the program’s first regional cheerleading title by a half-point over William Byrd (238.5) on Saturday night at Staunton River High School.
“We really didn’t know what to expect,” HHS coach Bridget Smith said. “We knew if the girls came out and nailed their routine, we’d have a chance of going on to states.”
It took every bit of a deduction-free performance for the Blue Streaks to surprise themselves with the championship trophy. Their goal was to simply qualify for their second straight Group AA state tournament, which will be held at the VCU Siegel Center in Richmond on Saturday.
The Valley District champions did much more than that with a 239-point performance for the HHS history books.
“Both rounds the girls performed better than they ever have,” Smith said.
William Byrd was the only other finalist to execute a deduction-free routine, placing second and qualifying for the state meet along with Jefferson Forest (223) and Brookville (200.5). Rustburg placed fifth with 184 points.
Broadway and Waynesboro – the Valley’s two other representatives – did not qualify for the finals in the nine-team tournament. Captains Courtney Landes and Ashton Terry led the Gobblers, who upped the difficulty of their routine after districts.
“We added more changes to make it more competitive of a routine, to compete better,” BHS coach Jessica Baker said. “The girls performed wonderfully. We went out there, nailed our routine and ended on a good note to end our season.”
“Next year, we need to focus more on tumbling,” Baker added.
HHS was by far the smallest team at regionals with a roster of 14. The other eight teams averaged 23. There were other reasons why the Streaks entered the event as David versus several Goliaths.
The Bees, for starters, had finished as the regional runner-up for the past three years. Plus, Brookville secured its fourth consecutive Seminole District title last weekend after placing fifth at states last year.
William Byrd was the defending Region III champion entering Saturday.
“We knew we had a really hard region,” HHS fourth-year cheerleader Rachel Defriece said.
But it was Lord Botetourt that worried Cobb, as its Blue Ridge District championship score of 255 was higher than Harrisonburg’s district mark.
“When it came down to the last team going to the second round, I was almost sure Lord Botetourt was going to go,” Cobb recalled, before revealing her reaction to hearing Harrisonburg boom from the speakers. “I was in shock. I don’t know if I screamed. I don’t know what I did. I was in shock.”
Cobb – the Streaks’ top tumbler and one of the team’s best fliers – was not 100 percent sold on cheerleading, even after agreeing to join the team at the coaxing of HHS coaches and teammates this season. Now, she’s hooked.
“It’s been so much fun. As soon as I did the first competition and I felt the adrenaline rush, it was just crazy how much I fell in love with it,” Cobb said.
Sticking an early switch-up to a heel stretch on Saturday, Cobb’s first major stunt that was only added to HHS’s arsenal before districts, helped settle her nerves in the finals, she said. Overall, Harrisonburg – which is looking to make its first finals appearance in its third-ever trip to states – has thrived on pressure all year.
“That’s when they do their best,” Smith said. “They always perform better than they ever practice.”