The Lewis-Palmer cheer team has high expectations as it heads north to the Denver Coliseum for this weekend’s state spirit championships.
The Rangers are hoping to improve upon last year’s third-place finish in Class 4A and bring home the program’s first state title since 1993, when they won the second of back-to-back crowns.
Lewis-Palmer has improved its state finish in each of coach Christina Pearce’s seven years with the team.
“We’ve placed in the top three in our competitive season all year and we’re hoping we can have another strong showing at state,” Pearce said last week after a practice in the school’s gymnasium. “It really comes down to who has the best day. We have a strong team and I think we can do it.”
The team is comprised of 14 girls. Seniors Taylen Dean and Emily Cook are the captains and four-year letter winners.
“There’s a lot that goes into winning,” Cook said. “We have our stunts. We have our tumbling. We have our cheer. It really comes down to who has the best day on the mat and who’s the cleanest and sharpest.”
Added sophomore Sawyer Broussard: “Everyone has worked so hard and I am so confident in my team that we’re going to do good at state.”
Last month, the Rangers were crowned champions of the Pikes Peak Athletic Conference for a third consecutive year.
The Rangers formed their team last spring, and in June they attended a Universal Cheer Association camp at the University of Colorado at Boulder where they began working on their routine. Their performance lasts 2 minutes, 30 seconds.
“June is when we started working on the foundation of what are the expected skills of where we ended up last season,” Pearce said. “By the end of July we nailed down the elements of what we wanted to add to our routine. And in August we got our choreography of our actual routine and since then we’ve been cleaning things up.”
Because there is limited space in the school’s two gymnasiums, the cheer team has had to practice at all times of the day, as early as 5:30 a.m. and as late as 9 p.m. The Rangers debuted their routine at the end of October and had several competitions leading up to state.
“We lost a lot of seniors from last year and this is a new team,” Dean said. “We’ve had to overcome a lot and come through a lot of difficulties and challenges and pushed through. This is the best routine I’ve seen from an L-P team.
“Everyone who’s on this mat right now really wants to be here.”
Junior Hayley Brubaker believes the Ranges have grown stronger as a team while fighting through their adversity.
“Last summer we were all focusing on the seniors to do it for us, but then we all came together and said we need to push as a team and all give it all of our effort,” she said. “It was a hard season and a learning curve, but we’ve stepped up.”
Sophomore Anna Icke is quick to point out — with the backing of her teammates — that cheerleaders are more than “flirts in skirts.”
“We are definitely athletes,” she said. “The training and the conditioning and the hours we put in is right there on par with the football players and the basketball players and the volleyball players.
“We all have to be present for this to work. Everybody’s got an important part of the mat. It’s the ultimate team sport.”