The Mount Hebron varsity cheerleaders added another trophy to their showcase and maintained a two-year winning streak when they edged outan arch-rival to win the "Maryland, You Are Beautiful" cheerleading competition.
In a one-point victory over North County High of AnneArundel County on October 12, the team smiled, danced, flipped and shouted its way into the winner's circle.
No strangers to winning, the Mount Hebron cheerleaders have accumulated a string of first-place victories over the past two years. Last summer, they took high honors at the Universal Cheerleaders Association camp at the University of Delaware. They scored one of their biggest coups when they took first place at the National Cheerleaders Association camp, sponsored by Salisbury State College. This win qualified them to compete in the national championships, which they were unable to attend because of the high cost of sponsoring the trip to Dallas, Texas, where the competition was held.
Their winning ways have translated into a new team attitude. "Now, it's even more disappointing if we get second (place) or worse," said senior Dana Cala.
The "Maryland, You are Beautiful" competition, at Brooklyn Park-LindaleMiddle School in Anne Arundel, featured 13 junior varsity and varsity cheerleading teams from all over the state. It is part of a 5-year-old project, sponsored through Gov. William Donald Schaefer's office,that recognizes community excellence in a variety of areas. This wasthe first year for the cheerleading competition.
The 13-girl squad had only three weeks to prepare the winning routine, and the cheerleaders worked hard to get ready. They added Friday night and Sunday afternoon practices to their normal four-nights-a-week schedule. And they wrote a special cheer and routine into a precision performance.
"It was clean. We didn't make any mistakes. Just big smiles and perfectly done," said Coach Peggy Curtis, who has been with the team for10 years.
The team was nervous before the event, the cheerleaderssaid. When they arrived that Saturday morning, their first sight wasthe North County team, last year's East Coast champions, dressed in matching sweat suits and working on their award-winning cheers.
Seven varsity squads competed for the title. The order of performance was determined by picking numbers out of a bag. Becky Rosendall, a senior and team co-captain, picked number 4 for the team.
"As soon asthe music came on I thought, 'Oh, my God,' but then we turned aroundand I saw the judges smiling, and I wasn't so nervous," said Amy Borowski, a 17-year-old senior who has been on the squad for three years.
Senior Jen Myers, who was sidelined for the event with an arm injury, was in charge of the music. Standing behind the judges, she hada good view of the team's performance, she said. She described it as"outstanding," and said she knew the competition would come down to Mount Hebron and North County.
North County had a home court advantage and a reputation for strong performances.
"I was a little bitworried because a lot of people in the gym were their fans, and theywere cheering for them," team co-captain Erin Igoe said.
The two teams were close until North County mistimed a stunt and dropped one girl in the middle of the routine, the cheerleaders said.
Until the very last minute, the Hebron cheerleaders thought they might lose. But when North County was announced as the first runner-up, their worries were over.
"I couldn't believe it," said Igoe. "All the work we did really paid off."