The school name is Millbrook High. The mascot spelled out on the blue jerseys is CATS – short for Wildcats.
But when it comes to the Wake County stunt championships, Millbrook is starting to be spelled this way: D-Y-N-A-S-T-Y.
The Wildcats have now won back-to-back Wake County titles to go with a runner-up finish in the sport’s inaugural year of competition in 2015. Millbrook defeated Sanderson in the final for the second straight year with a 17-12 victory Wednesday at Broughton’s gym.
The school names of the dominant teams in the sport might be familiar, but that doesn’t mean the competition is any easier.
“Every year it gets harder,” said Millbrook senior Maya Lee, a member of all three Wildcats finalist teams and a school cheerleader. “The first year was learning about the sport and the mindset. Every year the competition gets better. All the teams are good now.”
The competition on Wednesday began with the semifinals. Millbrook defeated Green Hope, 15-7, and Sanderson edged Wakefield, 13-12. Green Hope was the newcomer to the Final Four.
A year ago, Sanderson upset Wake County regular-season champion Wakefield in the semifinals before losing to Millbrook in the final. This year Sanderson won the regular-season title before falling to the Wildcats in the final for the second straight year. Millbrook beat the Spartans for the 2016 title, 17-11.
“I’m so proud of the eight seniors on this team,” said Millbrook coach Alli Leaptrott, who is now married with a new surname but still wearing her trademark blue-and-gold overalls. “We had a lot of returning girls, but we also had a lot of freshmen and sophomores that had to learn about the sport. We were a young team.”
That suggests the Wildcats will be seeking a three-peat next year.
Sanderson, though, has shown consistency with two straight runner-up finishes to challenge the Wildcats again. The Spartans weren’t able to beat Millbrook in the postseason after defeating the Wildcats in the regular season, but their semifinal victory over Wakefield following a regular-season victory over the Wolverines.
Despite a second straight runner-up finish, Sanderson coach Jocelyn Bradford said the Spartans can take solace in how much they’ve helped the sport grow.
In the first year, the teams numbered 15 to 16 athletes. In yesterday’s finals, Sanderson had 29 girls and Millbrook 27. The crowds also have grown. It was basically family members and friends the first year, but the student body turned out for the 2017 finals.
“The crowd is incredible from the first year,” Bradford said. “There were a lot of students, and you saw the guys that were here cheering for the girls, too.”
The scoring by judges, similar to the method for ice skating, was close until Millbrook pulled away in the fourth period. Millbrook led 6-5 at halftime and only 9-7 after the third period.
But the points that are available triple in the final period, and Millbrook outscored Sanderson 8-5. On the final routine, Millbrook outscored Sanderson, 3-1.
“The sport is going to keep growing,” Leaptrott said. “It gets better every year.”