Cheer squad third at state championships

Sweet Home?s cheerleaders, in their first season of competition, nailed a third-place finish at the state championships Saturday at the Portland Memorial Coliseum.

The Huskies trailed North Marion by two-tenths of a point in the final standings, just missing second place, but Coach Crystal Kimball didn?t seem particularly put out. Kimball dyed her hair pink to keep a deal she made with her team before the season started.

?Can you believe we were that close?? said Kimball. ?It was so exciting ? they did such an awesome job. I was so proud of them. They nailed their routine.?

Team members are Courtney Lake, Brittany Holly, Jessica Anderson, Megan Day, Schae Pettner, Kristi Ward, Zuri VanCleave, Steffani Crocker, and two team captains, Holly Keesecker and Sara McCutcheon.

?These girls are so amazing and I am so proud to be their coach,? Kimball said. ?They set a goal for themselves and they reached it. It?s our first year ever to compete and it?s just unheard of for a team who has never competed to go out and take third at state.?

South Umpqua won the 3A Small-Schools title in a 12-team field with a score of 76.8, followed by North Marion (73.2) and Sweet Home (73.0).

Kimball said South Umpqua had an advantage in that its team included one boy in the all-girl competition, which is allowed by OSAA rules.

?They had quite an advantage on their stunts ? his strength added quite a bit to their overall score for stunting and tumbling,? she said.

Still, she said, she was delighted with her team?s performance and was particularly appreciative of the Sweet Home crowd that was present. which included ?the entire dance team.?

?We had a huge crowd of fans that came to support us and it was wonderful,? Kimball said, adding that the Sweet Home section was the largest at the Coliseum. ?It really meant al ot to us. Sweet Home is such a great town. They had signs and shirts. We just want to say thanks to everyone who came and supported us on our big day.?