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Hanford wins state cheerleading title

Hanford scored 247 points to beat Eastlake (234), Ballard (217) and Eastside Catholic (207) for the WIAA 4A/3A large varsity division cheerleading state championship Saturday in Everett.

Moses Lake placed third overall in the 4A coed division with 222 points, behind Heritage (257) and Marysville-Pilchuck (223).

The 20-strong Falcons squad was judged in running and standing tumbling (hand springs, tucks, back flips and cartwheels), jumps, building (stunting, pyramids and basket tosses), cheer (crowd leading, pom-poms and signs) and a dance sequence.

For scoring purposes, each section is broken down by difficulty, technique and execution.

"I think our best is probably stunting," Hanford coach Kim Mayer said of her team's strongest skill. "And then tumbling. ... They've gotten better in every aspect."

And it all must wrap up under a

2-minute, 30-second time limit, with points deducted for passing the prescribed mark.

"We were about 2:28," Mayer said of full running time of the Falcons' performance, with 90 seconds dedicated to a dance/music section choreographed by Teri Rowe and roughly 58 seconds allotted to cheer, stunting, building and tumbling.

"She's really a genius when it comes to dance choreography," Mayer said of Rowe. "Just want to give credit where credit is due. She owned the Elite Dance & Cheer for years, had numerous national titles, and so she's been hired to come in. And you know, she did an amazing job. We're really lucky to have that."

Next, Hanford will compete in the United Spirit Association's national cheerleading championships March 25-29 in Anaheim, Calif., and Falcon junior Jaclynn Sanchez said the team is upping the ante in practice in creativity and energy.

"We're working on the same routine and upping how advanced it is," Sanchez said. "The stunts are getting more difficult and the tumbling more advanced."

Sanchez also noted the Falcons pride themselves on working together as a focused corps of athletes.

"We don't have captains," Sanchez said. "I think everybody on the team is a leader in a way."

And it's a philosophy of shared responsibility and enthusiasm that is working well for the crew.

"It is a really good, strong program with a tradition of excellence," said Mayer of Hanford's program, which was selected to the Washington State Cheer Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2007.

Mayer followed the team into the WSCCA Hall as a coach in 2008. She is marking her 23rd year coaching cheer -- she piloted the Huntington Junior High program in Kelso -- and her 17th guiding the Falcons.

"Hopefully, we keep the tradition going," she said.

Team roster -- Seniors: Amanda Bogen, Phoebe Kirk, Cindy Milardovic, Esperanza Scotta. Juniors: Chrystal Barnes, Leah Bogen, Kassidee Ellis, Carly Hayes, Brittany Olson, Jaclynn Sanchez, Tiffany Sanger; Sophomores: Amanda Bump, Shelby Danna, McKenzie Risley, Anna Sousley; Freshmen: Rylan Cartwright, Marina Kassianova, Paige McClendon, Gia Scovazzo and Chase Woodall.