Cheerleaders pull off ‘trifecta’; take league, state, national titles



The Warriors show the kind of synchronization they needed to win the national title at the National Cheerleading Association Championship in Dallas, Texas, Jan. 25-26.

The three-time state MIL champion and current state champion Kamehameha Maui cheer squad took it to the next level and delivered a first-place performance at the National Cheerleaders Association Senior and Junior High School National Championship in Dallas this weekend.

They became the first outer island school to take a national cheer championship, according to Head Coach Kealiʻi Molina. Radford High School, second-place winners, had earned the first title for a a school from Hawaiʻi in a previous year.

“To represent not only Kamehameha Schools, but also the island of Maui, is a tremendous honor,” co-captain Halia Kekuewa said.

On Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, the KS Maui Varsity Cheerleaders set out for Texas. The competition took place at the Dallas Convention Center, Jan. 25-26.

Teams from across America competed in twenty different categories. The two teams from Hawaiʻi, KS Maui and Oʻahu’s Radford High School, competed in the Small Advanced Coed division. The three other teams were from Southmoore, Natick and Fort Osage High Schools.

Before the battles began, the team got a little free time to check out the mall and eat dinner. But on Friday, it was time for competition mode.

The team had a morning practice at Cheer Athletics, a cheer academy located in Dallas; then, after a three-hour break, the team practiced again at the Dallas Convention Center.

It was during this practice that Kayla Sniffen, a freshman flyer, injured her ankle, which kept her from competing on the first day. Junior Moana Astronomo stepped in as flyer, and the team had to alter the routine slightly to fill her empty position.

On Saturday, nerves were running high as they anxiously awaited the afternoon arrival of the first day of competition.

“Because of Kayla’s injury, things were very overwhelming,” said Rachel Kaulupali, first-year cheerleader.

Although their raw score was the highest of the five schools, the Warriors’ performance placed them in third. This was because they had 2.25 points deducted for an illegal stunt and for low skill-level jumps.

Because the competition was a two-day event, every team had to perform on the first day to qualify for the second day. Only the top ten teams from each division moved forward to the second round. Since there were less than ten teams in KS Maui’s division, all five moved on.

Because they couldn’t use the same routine for both days, the team made changes to the choreography for the second day of competition. This included bringing Sniffen back, removing the illegal stunt, and adding higher-level jump sequences. This time, they received no deductions, and in the end, that perfection made all the difference as they narrowly defeated Radford by 1 and 15/100 of a point.

In fact, the team was only 2/100 of a point shy of walking away with the Grand Champion’s trophy, which is awarded to the one team that scored the highest from among the many who competed over the weekend, according to Ms. Lokelani Patrick, KSM parent-community coordinator and mother of sophomore cheerleader Hannah Patrick. Ms. Patrick accompanied the team to North America.

To see their award winning performance, click here to watch it on the Kamehameha Maui Facebook page.

On Sunday, the team competed at 7:50 p.m. The awards ceremony followed at 9:30 p.m.

The results were as followed:

Kamehameha Schools Maui 98.68
Radford High School 97.53
Southmoore High School 96.78
Natick High School 92.80
Fort Osage High School 90.98

“Winning NCA Nationals is amazing! That black jacket we won is one of the most coveted awards in cheerleading,” said Coach Molina. “To know we did a trifecta this year of MIL, states and then nationals is amazing! I am so proud of this little team from Maui that made waves in Dallas!”

The entire team of 11 made the trip, with eight competing. The squad consists of  senior Jocelyn Aipa; juniors Rachel Kaulupali, Acacia Coloma-Mariano, Moana Astronomo, Jessica Walker, Halia Kekuewa, and Kaleʻa Borling; sophomores Hannah Patrick, Chaston Abut and Ashlee Sawai; and freshman Kayla Sniffen

Monday, parents, students and faculty at Kahului Airport awaited the arrival of the National Champions at the foot of the terminal escalator. Hugs, signs and lei were exchanged and lots of pictures were taken as well, while everyone admired the 3-foot trophy and championship banner.