No squad celebrates a championship better than a high school stunt team. The nucleus of the roster, after all, is made up of members of the football and basketball season cheerleaders.
Millbrook’s 22-woman roster was quick to break into celebration – this time for themselves, though – once the Wildcats clinched the second annual Wake County stunt championships with a 17-11 victory over Sanderson Thursday at Broughton.
The yells seemed louder and the hugs tighter than other sports.
“We are so incredibility excited that we won,” senior Chania Witherspoon said. “We worked so hard the past two years. Our mission was to get back to the championship and bring forward our best effort.”
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The two-year reference had to do with Millbrook losing in last year’s inaugural final. Apex came from behind to beat the Wildcats on the final routine, 13-12.
In fact, Witherspoon admitted avenging the loss to Apex was almost as important as the county title. The second-seeded Wildcats got both when they edged No. 3 seed Apex in the second semifinal of the final four event, 16-15.
“We got to beat them and win the title, too,” said Witherspoon, who plans to continue her cheerleading career as a UNC Charlotte student.
In the opening semifinal, top-seeded Wakefield, the unbeaten regular-season champion despite its first year of competition, was upset by No. 4 seed Sanderson, 16-10.
Sanderson and Wakefield didn’t meet in the regular season, but the Spartans’ semifinal comeback victory semifinal demonstrated the competitive side of the sport.
“The girls were passionate and competitive,” Sanderson Coach Jocelyn Bradford said. “All the girls cheered for each other. This is a team sport.”
Wakefield led 3-2 after the first period and 6-4 at halftime before Sanderson took an 8-7 after the third quarter. With the fourth quarter’s three routines were weighed more heavily, the Spartans outscored Wakefield 2-1 on the first routine for a 10-8 lead and again 3-1 in the second to clinch the match with an insurmountable four-point lead entering the final routine.
Wakefield coach LaShonda Haddock gathered her girls in a postgame huddle just like any other sport for final words about a season that ended with a loss.
“It was a fun year,” Wolverines junior team captain Blayne Furr said. “I’m very proud of our team. We never thought we’d go undefeated (in the regular season) in our first year.”
Wake County Athletic Director Deran Coe noted the sport continues to grow. There were three new teams this year for a total of 14. The rosters of 20-plus athletes also were larger than a year ago.