Apex and Millbrook brought home team plaques from the inaugural Wake County Stunt Championships to take up residence in the school trophy case alongside titles in football, basketball and other sports.
The first stunt title was decided in dramatic fashion as Apex scored three points on the final routine to come from behind and edge Millbrook 13-12 Thursday night at Broughton High.
Perhaps no team celebrates more appropriately than a roster that includes cheerleaders from the football and basketball seasons. Apex’s girls knew when to hug, cheer and dance, and at the end they clapped respectfully throughout the medal presentation to the runner-up Millbrook athletes.
“I’m speechless,” said Apex junior Johunna Gatlin, a cheerleader in the fall and winter. “I couldn’t ask for anything better than this. We went into the year barely knowing about the sport. We’re very proud and honored to represent our school.”
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Gatlin, one of the girls the Cougars featured in tosses and at the top of pyramid building, was on the sideline during the final three-point routine that clinched the victory. She and senior Betsy Bulkin hugged and danced in the moments before the final toss unfolded and was scored by the judges. It was if in basketball season they celebrated a three-point field goal at the buzzer before the ball swished the net.
“I saw they made a mistake and we hit our routine,” explained Gatlin of the simultaneous competition. “I was ecstatic.”
Wake County’s first stunt season featured 11 schools in two conferences. The top two teams from each advanced to the “Final Four” of the semifinals followed by the final.
Southern Conference champion Apex defeated Northern Conference runner-up Sanderson, 15-11, while Northern Conference champ Millbrook beat Southern runner-up Panther Creek, 17-10.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better first season for our girls,” Millbrook coach Alli Mousel said. “It was awesome they could represent our school and show to everybody what they can do.”
Wake County Public Schools System athletic director Deran Coe was in attendance and is confident more schools will add the sport next year.
“I’ve already had parents call me to ask which schools have stunt,” Coe said. “This was a great start for a new sport.”
Two coaches in attendance, Britney Kensmoe and Samantha Moreno, said their schools are committed to competing next year. Kensmore, the cheerleading coach at Holly Springs, said she will also coach stunt. Moreno, Panther Creek’s assistant coach, has been named the cheerleading and stunt coach at Apex Friendship, which opens in the fall with ninth- and 10th-grade classes.