PORTLAND -- After being postponed for the first time ever due to inclement weather, the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union cheerleading championships proved to be worth the wait Saturday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
From record-setting performances to legendary showdowns between iconic programs, the battle for cheerleading supremacy will undoubtedly go down as one of the most memorable championships in the competition’s 35-year history.
The morning session started off with fireworks in the 1-3A Division when Cascade Christian was assessed a time penalty after their music glitched. The Challengers, who had shown steady improvements during the later half of the season, put together an impressive routine that saw them amass the highest raw score within their division.
Their 10 points in penalties, however, opened the door for Santiam Christian to win its 12th championship and first since 2004. The Eagles, led by first-year coach Kathie Carley, earned their title with near flawless execution scores across the board as they were the only 1-3A team in the top five with zero deductions.
After drawing the first performance spot of the day at 9 a.m., it looked as though Sweet Home might have set the bar too high for any other 4A competitors. The Huskies easily had their best showing of the year, all while fans were still trickling into the Coliseum.
Ninety minutes later, however, the Cubs of Newport made sure they would have the final say in who would be crowned division champion. They put on an unrivaled stunting display that would propel them to a seven-point victory and their third title as a program.
Perhaps the only expected outcome of the day came when South Albany beat a host of 5A divisional threats to win its fourth consecutive state championship. The RedHawks finished as the only undefeated cheerleading team this season, but had their stiffest competition since their streak started in 2016.
The charge of contenders was led by an up-and-coming Ridgeview team that took second by only three points. For a school that opened its doors in 2012, this was only the fourth time ever competing at the state championships for the Ravens.
The biggest upset of the day came in the afternoon session when two time defending state champion Westview defeated seven-time winner Newberg to take home the 6A crown.
Just two weeks ago, at the annual pre-state competition in Salem, Newberg beat Westview by 20 points. Over the past 14 days, however, legendary coach Melissa Hoekert, who has led the Wildcats to nine state titles in her tenure, pushed all the right buttons to put Westview in a position to win.
The Wildcats, like Sweet Home, drew the first time slot and gave a similarly inspiring performance. This time, though, Westview was able to hold onto its lead when the Tigers of Newberg uncharacteristically dropped the front end of their elite stunt sequence. The two points in penalties were just enough to give Westview its third consecutive title by four-tenths of a point.
Another division that looked fairly predictable just two weeks ago took an unexpected turn when Lebanon beat previously undefeated David Douglas in the Small Coed Division during last competition of the regular season.
The Scots had been winning convincingly all season until that that loss, leaving many in their division believing there was a potential window of opportunity at the state championships. David Douglas, led by senior superstar Cameron Holmes, put any thoughts of that to rest with an adrenaline-charged performance that registered the highest stunting score of the entire day and highest overall score of any division.
Perhaps the only thing that could steal even a little shine from David Douglas’ dominance on Saturday was runner-up The Dalles, who despite taking home silver medals, tallied the second highest overall score of any team in any division.
The Riverhawks, showed signs of a program that once won 11 consecutive state titles (1998-2008) with a thrillingly flawless routine. Ultimately, though it would be the Scots, who won their third overall title as a program, who hoisted the blue trophy.
The afternoon ended with what many considered to be the most competitive division of day. McMinnville, Lakeridge, and Tualatin all had reasons to believe they might reign supreme in the Large Coed Division.Lakeridge was the only undefeated team of the bunch but both McMinnville and Tualatin had notched marquee victories throughout the course of the season.
In the end, though, it was the dean of the Large Coed Division,Thurston, to be crowned champion. The Colts had not beaten any of the other major contenders during the regular season but used a revamped cheer and exhilarating dance section to win their 10th state title as a program and first since 2016.
Thurston coach Robin Erickson showed why she is the reigning Oregon Cheerleading Coach of the Year by winning the coveted Leslie Maley Choreography award for her team’s amazing performance.
A complete breakdown of Saturday's scoring results is available here.