Tuesday, May 24, 2022 |
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LIHU‘E — Waimea High School became the first Neighbor Island cheer squad to earn a state championship, Sunday.
Competing in a field of 13 squads in the Medium Division, or squads up to 10 people, the Menehune squad under the leadership of coach Roxanne Cardejon edged past the Moanalua High School Menehune by collecting 317 points to Moanalua’s 310 points on O‘ahu.
“They were awesome,” said Penny Vess, vice principal of Kaua‘i High School, who witnessed the competition and her daughter perform with the University of Hawai‘i cheer and dance squad. “They (Waimea) were hitting almost everything and the competition was tough. It was really close and when Waimea was announced, the Moanalua kids broke down. It was that close.”
The seven-point margin broke the six-time string from Radford High School who went on to win the championship for the Large Division, edging out four-time winner Kamehameha-Kapalama with its 294 points to Kamehameha’s 267 points.
“Waimea really deserved the win,” said Avery Kano, coach for the Kaua‘i High School cheer squad, runner-up in the Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation competition. “We went up Friday and got to see Waimea perform. They definitely deserved to win, but the competition was really tough with probably just one, or two, points separating the squads in each performance category.”
With the victory, Waimea High School becomes the first Neighbor Island school to win a state crown in either division, said Wes Nakama, the HHSAA assistant director of information, in making the announcement.
“I don’t think all of this has set in, yet,” said Cardejon, weary from the day’s experience.
“I was really worried because we had some really bad practices heading to states. We had two exhibitions for parents and there was no applause. You could hear a pin drop and I kept saying, ‘Oh no, not now with states coming up.’”
Vess felt that Baldwin High School, opening the 11th Annual Zippy’s HHSAA State Cheerleading Championships at the Stan Sheriff Center at the University of Hawai‘i at Mano‘a, was a state winner at one point, but according to the HHSAA tournament records, Baldwin finished in the runner up berths twice in the Large Division, 2004-05 and 2005-06, and twice in the runner up berths in the Medium Division, 2005-06 and 2006-07.
Waimea previously placed third in the Large Division in 2010-11 before winning the state title. Kaua‘i High School placed third in the Large Division during the 2004-05 state competition.
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