LIHUE — The Kauai High School cheer squad exploded to the championship of the Kauai Interscholastic Federation Saturday at its home gym.
Unfolding before a small crowd of supporters, the Red Raider cheer squad — under the leadership of Coach Carrie Nakaahiki-Young — exploded onto the scene with a pair of its pepsters being tossed into the air as the Red Raider banner was waved back and forth in the background.
This set the stage for the performance which earned the 11-member competitive squad 307.75 points for the title. Kapaa High School filled in the runner-up spot with 222.5 points.
“This was just a lot of practice and hard work,” said Nakaahiki-Young. “We had a lot of trials on the road, but the girls were able to put the routine on the mat.”
Waimea High School, the defending champion, was limited to an exhibition showing with just four of its members.
“Things happen,” said Stephanie Poteete, the Waimea coach who is in her first year at the helm of the Menehue pepsters. “There were a series of injuries, and at the last minute, two of our girls weren’t going to be able to perform. It was too late to change the routines, but wait until next year. We’ll be back.”
The setback also saw the lack of Menehune on the KIF all-star cheer announcements as Mark Bonilla, the host for the day, announced five Kapaa and five Kauai pepsters to the all-star cheer squad.
Three Kapaa seniors, Jasmine Carnate, Ariel Cummings and Chelsea Ferrer were named to the all stars, joining Kapaa junior Emily Cruz and sophomore Kaylin Espada Tasaka.
From the KIF championship team, Kauai senior Tailee “Mahina” Tangonan was joined by two juniors, Caley Caires (who was celebrating her birthday Saturday) and Michaela Licke, as well as two freshmen, Torrie Hasegawa and Drewan Pigao.
During the competition, which spanned about two hours, guests were treated by exhibition performances by cheer squads from the Kauai Pop Warner Football League. Those included two performances from the five groups who earned eligibility to the Pop Warner National Cheer and Dance Competition in Florida last Sunday at the KPWFL island-wide cheer competition at the Bernice Hundley gym in Kapaa.
With the win, Kauai High School cheer squad will represent the KIF at the 18-squad field at the Zippy’s Hawaii High School Athletic Association Cheerleading Championships, which take place at the Blaisdell Arena on Nov. 15 on Oahu.