Champs times two: LHS cheerleaders repeat to win state title

David Peck

The Lovell cheerleaders did it again, and this time it wasn’t even close.
One year after edging Big Piney by .45 of a point – 76.650 to 76.200 -- to capture the championship in the Class 2A Game Day division of the Wyoming State Spirit competition, the Lovell High School cheerleaders repeated as champions Friday in Casper, this time topping second place Cokeville by four points – 88.850 to 84.800.
Coach Nicole Hendershot said it was a thrill to repeat as a state champion, noting that the team put together an outstanding performance.
“They really came out with high energy, and they were committed to that,” Hendershot said. “Part of the score is genuine school spirit, and they really came out of the gate strong and pushed hard through to the end. It can be hard to keep up the energy for three minutes, and they really did.
“In fact, one judge wrote, ‘Great energy to the end.’ That’s something we had practiced, and it was good to see them put that into play on the mat.”
There are four elements to a cheer routine: band dance, sideline cheer, crowd leading and the fight song. Part of the score is technical, Hendershot said, and the Lovell team excelled in that area.
“I was pleased that we had zero technical deductions,” Hendershot said. “The stunts went up and came down beautifully. Their technique was sharp and synchronized through the whole routine. You can tell when they’re working together and putting it together as a team, and that energy flows through all of them.”
Members of the competition team are seniors Ada Buchholz and Katie Jones, junior Whitney Hendershot, sophomores Lynn Marchant, Haley Sanders and Ella Spanier and freshmen Caitlyn Allen, Jaelen Mayes, Kellie Peterson, Lindsey Scheid-Leonhardt, Paige Spenny, Candace Walker and Avery Wardell.
Also on the team but not competing are Ashley Mangus and Matty Leithead.
Hendershot also announced that Whitney Hendershot and Spanier were selected to the Class 1A-2A All-State Cheerleading Team in January.
Though fighting a bad cold, Coach Hendershot was on Cloud 9 this week following the competition.
“There was definitely a lot of pressure to do it again, and you see these girls put in the work,” she said. “It can be tedious and repetitive. But it paid off – what we do in practice and how we win – they proved it on the mat. I could not be more proud, for sure.”
Hendershot said she performed all of the choreography for the competition.
The championship earned the team a ride into town atop a fire truck Saturday afternoon.
Dance trophies
The LHS dance team also brought home a pair of trophies from State Spirit, placing third in Class 3A in both the Hip Hop and Jazz categories.
In Hip Hop Dance, Lovell finished with a score of 70, just behind first place Green River at 74.450 and Evanston at 72.
Fifth-year coach Kari Angell said her team scored well with difficult moves during the routine.
“They award points for difficulty, and the majority of the girls doing headsprings were our main difficult moves – and back flips,” she said.
The routine was high energy, Angell said.
“We did a Missy Elliott mix, which was old school to these kids,” she said. “It’s pretty upbeat and a really energetic routine that the team really, really loved. They had a lot of fun with it. We haven’t really done a mix before.”
Members of the competition team were seniors Sienna Durtsche and Sadie Wassmer, juniors Livee James and Anastyn Leithead, sophomores Addy James and Ella Spanier and freshmen Caitlyn Allen, Mark Durfee, Addi Perkins, Paige Spenny, Candace Walker and Avery Wardell.
In the Jazz Dance category, Lovell received a score of 68.550 behind only champion Evanston with 79.030 and second place Powell at 71.340.
The team danced to Taylor Swift’s “I Did Something Bad.”
“It’s a good song,” Angell said. “It’s more modern, a pop jazz routine. It’s kind of edgy, with a lot of sass, and it really got the crowd going. The crowd in Casper really enjoyed the routine.”
Members of the team were the same as the Hip Hop team but with the addition of foreign exchange student Loreto Gonzalez of Spain. Also on the team but not competing was exchange student Jade Gastineau of France.
Angell noted that the team worked hard from August on and practiced four days a week in the morning through December, then “switched it up a bit” in January.
“For a couple of weeks we practiced six days trying to fit everything in,” she said. “They worked hard, extremely hard. This was one of the most committed, coachable teams I’ve had. They wanted a trophy, and they got two, so their hard work definitely paid off.”
Angell was honored as the Class 2A-3A Dance Coach of the Year, chosen by dance and cheer coaches from around the state. She said four students were also selected to the 2A-3A All-State Dance team: Addy James, Livee James, Anastyn Leithead and Ella Spanier.
“In years past it was a 1A through 4A team. This was the first year we had our own division,” Angell said. “It’s so great that these girls have their own division.”
Angell was assisted again this year by Danielle Leonhardt, and she said both routines were choreographed by Leslie Jara of Utah.