Back to back state champs


photo by Michael Gibson

The varsity cheer team holds up signs during their cheer. The team won states for the second time in a row

It all came down to this, the varsity cheerleading team had one more performance to capture the fifth state title in the last six years, and for many on the team, their second in a row. The team huddled in the tunnel for a last minute confidence boost before competing, shouting “We can do this!” as they did before every competition. After their name was called they ran onto the mat, jumping and waving; little did they know they were about to make history.

“Running onto the mat I had lots of energy and nerves in my body,” junior Camila Pagan said. “Seeing the crowd we had and support from the arena made it all worth it.”

The cheerleaders left everything they had on the mat and it paid off as they finished the routine with only one fall. As they came off the mat, the fall was not what was worrying them though, it was how their rival Bartram Trail did. Bartram Trail had beat the team every time they faced off this season including the regional finals. Yet Hagerty has beaten them in the last two of three state finals.

After the last team of the night performed, the teams lined the mat for the winner to be announced. As the announcer called Bartram Trail for second place their faces were visibly distraught as they knew they had been defeated again, but a few teams down sat Hagerty who already had some girls crying with joy as they knew they had won. Once their name was announced as the state champions the whole team jumped up in the air in excitement, except for senior X’Zaria Bullard who fell to her knees in disbelief as she had just won her first state championship.

“Winning states was a feeling I can’t even describe,” Bullard said. “When they called our name I couldn’t cry because I was so shocked, it was an experience I will never forget.”

The road to states was not an easy or smooth ride though, it was actually more of a bumpy one. The team had escaped the regional finals in second place with two falls and multiple bobbles. The second place finish was not only unexpected, it was also not enough to beat Bartram Trail, but it was enough to qualify them straight to the state finals. That was all they needed.

“Finding out we got second and made it straight to finals was definitely a weight lifted off my shoulders,” Pagan said. “Knowing we didn’t have our best performance pushed us to work harder so we could go into states as confident as ever.”

In the state finals the team proved once again why they are the best cheerleading team in the state and will be for years to come. The team is very young, only having five seniors and have moved multiple JV girls up who have lived up to the expectations.

The season was not over for them though as they competed in nationals and worlds this past weekend and placed seventh in the nation and third in the world. All year the girls’ motto was to make their own legacy and they did that as their season officially comes to a close.

“This season will always have a special place in my heart,” Pagan said. “The bond we’ve formed this season will stay with us even after we go our own way.”