SH cheer member tops in all-state competition

Sweet Home’s Abby Rice placed first in the state Nov. 22 at the Oregon Cheerleading Coaches Association All-State 1-4A competition at Springfield High School.

The Huskies competed against 1A through 4A. The event included separate divisions for the 5A and 6A schools.

Sweet Home’s stunt group of Larisa Cole, McKenna Burnett, Lea Rasmussen, Stephanie Szuch and Kelly Pollock placed third in their division, in a field of approximately 20 teams.

Rice is the second first-place winner for the Huskies in three years. Stefanie Crocker, who now cheers at the University of Oregon, won two years ago. Last year the Huskies had no placewinners.

Coach Crystal Kimball said that Rice will get a scholarship from the OCCA, which raises money for that purpose.

“This is cheerleading’s way of picking an all-state team for cheerleaders,” she said.

The Huskies’ Leah Keesecker would have placed fifth in the individual event if she hadn’t had a points deduction because of a misunderstanding of how the timing of the event was conducted, Kimball said.

She said the level of tumbling required at the event is very high.

“They have to be really good tumblers,” she said. “The whole thing has to be top-notch. When you’re going up against kids who have been in gymnastics since they were 2, it’s hard to beat them.

“I’m very pleased with how the girls did. We had no falls and no major mistakes.”

Kimball said the all-state competition is a good precursor of what the Huskies can expect in their competition season, which starts Jan. 10. She said it was clear that South Umpqua will be giving Sweet Home a run for its money, as the Lancers and the Huskies were the top groups in the stunt competition.