DOVER – Strawberry Crest High School’s cheerleaders ended their season in a big way.
The 23 members of the squad placed fifth in their division at the National High School Cheerleading Championship. It was quite a feat for a school that opened just five years ago.
“We finished on a high note,” coach Loveny Rivas said.
The cheerleaders, which includes two male students, had quite a stellar season that included first place finishes in conference and regional competitions. The team placed second in the Florida High School Athletic Association state championship.
The national competition, sponsored by the Universal Cheerleader Association, was held at Walt Disney World. Thirty-two teams competed in the co-ed division for small schools.
The Charger cheerleaders placed fourth in the first round of competition that whittled the field down to 13. They placed fifth in the second and final round.
Rivas said she wouldn’t have expected such a performance this season because her cheerleaders included eight freshmen. Three squad members had never cheered before.
“I was expecting this to be a rebuilding year. I never expected we would go so far,” she said.
Rivas, a Spanish II teacher at Strawberry Crest, has been a cheerleading coach since 2000, the last four years for the Chargers. Her sister Chelsea Martin is the squad’s assistant coach.
The squad has been co-ed for three years, she said.
Their 2-minute, 30-second routine was choreographed to songs about champions, including “We are the Champions” by the Britsh rock group Queen.
Squad members include Cesar Abadia, Alyssa Archer, Demi Coble, Brooke Conyers, Shauntelle Cruz, Shaquira Cruz, Halee Dixon, Taylor Fales, Georgia Foster, Macy Gay, Brianna Hackett, Kyndall Hallman, Kelsey Howard, Tarra Love, Megan O’Steen, Savannah Reagan, Ayana Richardson, Jordyn Shoemaker, Sergio Valentin, Carmen Watts, Kayla Watts, Jenna Weir and Sarah Wylie.
The national cheerleading competition where the Chargers placed fifth is scheduled to air three times: 9 a.m. Saturday on ESPNU, 3:30 p.m. Sunday on ESPN2, and 1:30 p.m. April 19 on ESPN2.