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TOP 10: The Valley competitive cheerleading squad finished eighth in the national gameday competition last Friday night in Orlando, Florida. Photo Submitted

Valley cheer team places eighth at national competition

ORLANDO — The Valley High School competitive cheerleading squad finished in the top 10 at the National High School Cheerleading Championship in Orlando, Florida on Friday. 

At the Walt Disney World Resort, the Rams placed eighth in the large varsity non-tumbling division for gameday routines. This is the furthest the competitive cheerleading team has gone in its fifth year of existence.

“It felt great,” Valley head cheerleading coach Laurie Phillips said. “It was great to see all the girls’ hard work pay off.”

Valley arrived at the competition on Friday morning to qualify for the national finals that evening. In the finals, the Rams either finished with the same score or better in each category compared to their previous round. The Rams finished with a score 86.6, which was 2.7 points shy of finishing third overall in the competition.

Both performances in the morning and evening were streamed live on ESPN3.

“They handled it really well,” Phillips said. “They stepped up to the plate, and they were ready to go show what they could do.”

In gameday competition, squads typically perform their fight song, a stand tune and then will be given commands of specific game situations such as “defense” or “offense” to cheer on. Gameday competition is not the same category as traditional competition routines, which consists of two minutes and 30 seconds with various stunts, cheer, jumps and dance.

Moving forward, the competitive cheer team is only losing two seniors this spring before returning a large class of juniors. Team captain Katie Miles was the lone senior to compete during all four years of high school.

“That junior class has cheered together every year since they were in seventh grade,” Phillips said. “On the competition team, we have five of them, and on the regular school squad, we have eight of them. All of these juniors have been on the competition team and have been to two national competitions now, and some of them will be back next year.”

The team has fundraised primarily through summer cheer clinics for local children in addition to being sponsored by local businesses and selling products. 

Phillips thanked her assistant coach Chelsea Bunn, Valley cheer alum Jaelin Dawson and officer Sandra Crim for being a big supporter of the program.

“These girls have experienced how proud this community is of them,” Phillips said. “They have helped them through cheering them on, or through donations that allowed them to go [to nationals]. The team has absolutely been in awe of how great the community has responded to them and what they were able to accomplish, which they wouldn’t be able to accomplish had they not have had that support. To see them recognize that is a great thing.”