Kamehameha cheerleaders win in Orlando

The Kamehameha cheerleading squad cleaned up its routine enough to go from fifth at states to tops in the nation. Dennis Oda / Star-Advertiser
The Kamehameha cheerleading squad cleaned up its routine enough to go from fifth at states to tops in the nation. Dennis Oda / Star-Advertiser

The Kamehameha cheerleaders defended their title last weekend.

The Warriors’ 14-member squad won the medium division of the “Game Day Championships” portion of the UCA National High School Cheerleading Championships last weekend in Orlando, Fla., and will return to Oahu on Tuesday.

Kamehameha defeated nine other teams in that division, which is a relatively new category. It requires teams to do three routines, a fight song, a sideline cheer and a halftime or timeout cheer.

“Cheerleading is so competitive now, you’ve got nationals all over the place and all-stars,” Warriors coach Melissa Wennihan said. “This (new category) brings it back to where cheerleading is rooted — being a proud leader and cheering for your team.”

Kamehameha did not place in the more competitive small varsity division, which had 54 teams participating.

“Game Day Championships is cool in its own right,” Wennihan said. “We’ve been blessed to win it two years in a row.”

Wennihan said the PA announcer at the competition prompts teams as if they’re in the middle of a game, and the mat they cheer on is green, the color of a field, instead of blue.

“The announcer will say, ‘Let’s hear it for the Warrior band, and that is a cue for us to start the fight song and it prompts me to start the recorded version of our band,” Wennihan said. “The cheerleaders will rally in between the three segments. The announcer will then say something like, “It’s the end of the first quarter and we’re all tied up,” and “Let’s give a hand for the Warrior cheerleaders,” as prompts for the sideline cheer and the halftime cheer.”

Kamehameha team members are: seniors Ashlyn Chee, Bailey Wilson-Pena, Carly Armstrong, Dezarae Leʻi, Kani Namuʻo, Lili Parker, Taelyn Henderson; juniors Momi Tolentino and Zoe Kessler; sophomores Emma Parker and Luana Panui; freshmen Jaela Henderson, Jaelyn Domingo and Shania Mendez; head coach Wennihan; and assistant coaches Alyssa Kong, Kanani Kekuawela and Shawna Uehara.

Wennihan, whose maiden name is Beimes, has been coaching for 18 years and has been the head coach for the Warriors since 2004.

Kamehameha won UCA national championships in 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010 before the two UCA Game Day titles the last two years.

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