Varsity cheer wins MIL champs, breaks 10-year BHS streak

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Photo by Reid Cairme

The Maui Warrior cheerleaders complete their first-place routine at the Maui Interscholastic League Cheerleading Championships at Ka'ulaheanuiokamoku Gym, Saturday, Nov. 12. The squad broke the Baldwin Bears 10-year winning streak, and took the title for the first time in KSM history.

By Reid Cairme, features writer

The Kamehameha Schools Maui varsity cheer team flipped, tumbled and stunted their way into first place across the mats at Ka’ulaheanuiokamoku Gym, Saturday, Nov. 12.

The varsity squad took the Maui Interscholastic League cheerleading championship for the first time since the official competition began ten years ago, breaking Baldwin High School’s 10-year win streak. The Warriors scored 290 out of 375 points to the Bears’ 230.5 points.

Teams earn points in four basic categories: cheerleading fundamentals, routine choreography, routine execution, and overall performance. In addition, penalties can be taken for going over time limits for the music and cheer portions, as well as for going over two and a half minutes for the routine overall.

“They had a clean performance,” said Judge Coordinator Michelle Bustillos. “They were the only squad not to drop any stunts. They also had more energy than the other squads.”

Maui High placed third with 180 points, and King Kekaulike came in fourth place with 167 points.

The Kamehameha Maui routine consisted of a series of complicated lifts, which required much energy and synchronicity. It was a seamless performance with little to no mistakes.

“They really rocked it today,” Coach Keali`i Molina said. He said he tells them, “When in doubt, rock it out.”

Baldwin, who went first in the varsity division, opened up strong with impressive back flips and tumbling passes, but they started to falter  with two of their fliers falling on their first and second pyramids.

Maui High had the smallest cheer squad of only 6 members, including one of the only two male cheerleaders in the MIL. They played it safe with minimal stunts, and they had one fall during a pyramid, but their performance was spirited and fun.

King Kekaulike opened up their routine with an impressive and dramatic cross throw, eliciting “oohs”and “ahs” from the crowd and showing that they are capable of big stunts. Their set consisted mostly of work on they ground though, and when they tried to go higher, they struggled with holding their poses and had two falls. They also included only one tumbling pass.

The Warriors erupted into cheers and tears when they learned they had won. They were walking on air thinking of competing at the HHSAA Zippy’s Cheerleading Championship at Stan Sheriff Center on O’ahu, Dec. 4.

“I feel that we will rock in states and show that we deserve[d] to win first place [at MILs],” junior Ashley Watson said.

The cheeleaders have been working since September to win this year’s championship, and their first-place finish showed that, but what some fans might not have known is that one member of the team was brought into the competition with little notice.

“I had to learn the choreography in a few days to stand in for Tianna Guerrero [who was out with an injury],” said co-captain and senior, Rachel Bega.

Before the varsity competition, three junior varsity teams competed. The KSM JV team placed second to Baldwin. The scores were 205 and 231.5, respectively. Maui High placed third with 185 points, and King Kekaulike did not have a JV team.

The KS Maui JV squad did a safe routine, not doing anything too risky. This allowed them to avoid penalties, but wasn’t enough to surpass the Bears’ stunt-filled routine.

The Baldwin squad was acrobatic with multiple pyramids, tumbling passes and flies.

The Maui High squad also formed pyramids; however, they had some trouble with their stability, almost causing their fliers to fall.

While the judges tabulated the final results, 11 of the 13 senior cheerleaders from the four schools came together to perform to Get It Ready, also known as the Monkey on a Stick song. The other two seniors, both Maui Warriors, were preparing for the Hawaii All Star Cheer team exhibition performance that followed.