Coming off from an outstanding season, Chap Cheer 18-19 headed into Nationals last February ready to not only hit but it hard. Beautiful routines and leaving everything on the mat lead them into finals. After a powerful but unsettling end to their season, they placed fourth nationally, not too bad for a tumbling fall. Among their senior roster were three four year varsity girls, two All-Americans, two All-state recipients, seven that graduated with honors, four NHS members, and a collegiate cheerleader. Losing eight highly experienced seniors is enough to rock any team but, no one knew what was in store for the 19-20 season.
With tryouts complete in April, eleven of the sixteen girls on the mat were completely new to cheer or had never competed for the varsity level before. Needless to say, it looked pretty rocky at first having to teach new members from the beginning but as Heather Saunders said all season, “Don’t call it a rebuild!” No one knew what Chap Cheer had in store, which made heading into competition season even more fun, underdogs at the very least. After a rocky competition season, they pulled out fourth at state and continued on their path, hungry for a national title. As the clock ticked the Wolverines put more reps in than ever and went into Nationals with confidence.
Tanned, packed, and more prepared than ever, the ladies left on February sixth with big dreams of a being national champion. Thursday, Feb 6th, flight 1804 departs from DIA to MCO (Orlando) airport carrying the wolverines to Walt Disney World Resort. After an exhausting thirteen-hour day of traveling and fun, everyone was out by 10 pm. Friday, Feb 7th, Universal day! At 6:30 23 arrived at the VROC! Mats for our first practice in the Florida humidity. Hitting hard, the successful practice was the perfect confidence boost for Prelims the following day. The windy Orlando weather left everyone wiped out and ready for bed/Prelims the next morning. Saturday, Feb 8th, 4:30 am (2:30 Colorado time), the first alarm goes off, we compete at 6:30! With lipstick on, uniforms on, and breakfast packed for on-the-go, we headed to our buses to take us to the venue. After a rocky Prelims performance, the wolverines headed to the stadium for Semi Finalist announcements. Being given a second chance, the girls advance to Semifinals early Sunday! For the remainder of the day we practice again on the famous football field to better prepare ourselves for Sunday’s events. Sunday, Feb 9th, the day of semis, worlds, and finals. The most stressful day (to say the least) of the trip has arrived! With newfound confidence and drive the wolverines set out the conquer the day and do the impossible. After a slam hit in Semis, the girls were announced to move on to Finals later that day! But it wasn’t time to celebrate yet, we had to compete at Worlds between Semis and Finals! Using the confidence from our slam hit in Semis, we fueled up for another performance. Another crispy hit at Worlds granted the Wolverines with Second in the World! The emotions started to creep in but not yet! We had unfinished business and something major to prove in Finals. Last season, a fall at finals pushed the team to fourth place but not this year, we were ready. Riding the high of our season, the ladies warmed up for their third time that day and stepped out on the mat for the last time as a team. Not only did we have ourselves to prove, but everyone else who doubted Chap Cheer this season. With fire in our eyes, another slam hit. Seniors Vanessa Brinkman, Avery Renaud, and Regan Kinner were tears before the music even stopped and just like that, it was over. Everything left on the mat, blood, sweat, and tears. Our job was done but the anxiety of awards loomed over us as we watched the rest of our competition finish up.
D1 Medium Varsity All-Girl awards were up. Lined up on the floor, the top 13 teams all stood together with anxiety, waiting to see if it all was enough. Fossil Ridge, 9th place, and the announcer kept going. 5th, 4th, 3rd, and then “the mountains are moving in,” said the announcer as we all realized, it was between Chap and Eaglecrest for the national title. With .5 separating the teams, it was a close call. Chap is announced as second place, the highest placement in program history! After congratulating our Colorado friends and celebrating, the wolverines headed to Disney to celebrate the day with all cheer teams! Monday, Feb 10th, Disney day! The wolverines wandered around Disney until it seemed like their feet might bleed, still on the high from the magical day before. And just like that, it was over and we were headed back on a plane to Denver Tuesday, Feb 10th.
Even though the wolverines placed second, they are hungrier than ever for the win. With tryouts coming up again in April, the team prepares for the new season with hopes of a national title in their future. But don’t worry, we’re not done yet. Don’t call it a rebuild.
Story by Tessa Gagliardi '21
Photo provided by CHSAA