Even with three squad members recovering from the flu, the Questa Ladycats were able to secure a second-place finish in the small school varsity Cheer with Dance division at the St. Pius Showcase on Saturday (March 2).

If not for a stunt they weren't quite able to perform, the defending state champions might have had the first-place spot last weekend, too.

Fortunately, there is still time for the team to get healthy and back to the top of their game before state on March 29-30.

At the state competition, the teams have four performances each, two Game Day and two Cheer with Music. The purpose of the Game Day segments is to simulate cheering at a football game, so there are limitations on what teams are allowed to do during each section. Cheer with Music gives the teams an opportunity to perform their most difficult stunts and tumbling without restriction.

The Game Day performances are limited to three minutes, to be divided roughly equally between Band Dance, Crowd Leading and Fight Song.

For the Band Dance segment, teams perform to recorded marching band music and are not allowed to include stunts or tumbling.

For the Crowd Leading portion of the competition, teams are encouraged to use props such as megaphones and signs, but are not allowed music and are highly restricted in the stunts allowed. The idea is to imagine them on a track at a game rather than on the pads in a stadium. Teams are assessed on their ability to engage the crowd.

The Fight Song component, naturally, includes a recorded version of a marching band playing the team's fight song. There are again restrictions on the stunts that can be performed.

Each team gets no more than two and a half minutes for their Cheer with Music performances, where no more than one and a half minutes can have recorded, non-offensive music. They are allowed to stop and start it as much as they like, using chants and cheers when the music is not playing.

The Questa cheer squad won the state title in 2017 and 2018 and will be competing for their third in a row in March. While other teams have struggled with practice attendance, the state champions know that to stay on top they have to show up and give it their all every day, coach Kathy Gonzales told The Taos News.

The Questa cheerleaders have one more competition before state; they give a Game Day performance at half-time of the 3 p.m. state tournament basketball game on March 13 in Albuquerque's Dreamstyle Arena (The Pit).

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