The Taos Tigers spirit squad took first place in the varsity large school Cheer with Music division of the St. Pius Showcase on Saturday (March 2) in …
The Taos Tigers spirit squad took first place in the varsity large school Cheer with Music division of the St. Pius Showcase on Saturday (March 2) in Albuquerque.
Teams in the Cheer with Music competition were allowed two and a half minutes for their routines: fast-paced, high-energy, perfectly synchronized acts combining dance, tumbling, stunts, pyramids and engagement with the audience.
One of the most visually impressive aspects of a cheer competition is the precise coordination required for a team successfully to execute their routine. Athletes move in highly coordinated ways. Without any floor markings to guide them, they move over long stretches of floor to arrive on the exact spot where they are needed for stunts and pyramids.
Each stunt and pyramid requires that every person involved know exactly what to do and when, with complete trust between the athletes. If one person is late or uncertain or makes a mistake, the trick will fail or worse - someone will get hurt.
Imagine the difficulty in changing any aspect of such a highly coordinated activity at the last moment. That was exactly the challenge faced by Taos at the St. Pius Showcase.
One of the girls on the team hyperextended an elbow the night before Saturday's competition and couldn't compete. The Lady Tigers, therefore, had to adapt their routine to the absence of one of their athletes. A pretty big ask in a very short time.
They pulled it off.
The strain of the situation didn't show, even though they'd had a late night cheering the Tigers basketball team on to victory in Española Valley before traveling to the Duke City for the competition.
As is the culture of spirit competitions, competitors cheered the Lady Tigers onto the mat with calls of "Ta-os Ti-gers!" and gave loud applause at the successful completion of difficult stunts.
The Lady Tigers included plenty of challenge in their routine, thus garnering delighted cheers from the spectators, including their competition. For a sport in which the investment of the crowd is one of the scored criteria, these reactions are more than moral support.
Two of the new-to-4A teams the Tigers will encounter at the state championship competition on March 29-30, former 5A teams Española Valley and Las Cruces, were at the St. Pius Showcase, but both schools competed in the co-ed division and not against Taos.
Head coach Lisa Abeyta-Valerio said they did "pretty well considering we had an injury last night."
In the eyes of the judges, the Tigers' version of "pretty well" was better than good: the Tigers won their division.
While Taos was surely pleased with the result, one could almost feel the state competition draw closer.
The spirit squad has one more competition before state - the Halftime Hoorah, a Game Day competition that takes place during the state basketball tournament. The Lady Tigers will show their game day skills on Tuesday (March 12) at halftime of the 4 p.m. game in the state basketball tournament in Albuquerque's Dreamstyle Arena, better known as The Pit.
At the state championship, the Taos Tigers will try for their sixth consecutive state championship, this time with new competition from the many former 5A teams with whom they will now compete.
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