By Paul Honda
One team hid its fears better than most, worrying that a mistake during the closing lifts of its routine might cost a state title.
Another squad’s glitch early in a routine spelled trouble, and some of their heads were down once they left the mat.
All that concern was for naught. Kamehameha and Radford repeated as state champions in the Large and Middle Divisions yesterday at the Zippy’s State Cheerleading Championships at Stan Sheriff Center.
“Our coaches always tell us, ‘We’re Warriors. Keep your heads up and leave the mat with no regrets,’ ” senior co-captain Chelsea Bega said.
That’s what they did. Kamehameha captured its eight state title, including the last five under coach Melissa Beimes. The Warriors, with a larger squad — up from 12 to 16 this year — delivered a great performance that was virtually flawless until the end. That’s when they missed on a lift and dropped one of their flyers.
“The last lift, it was release they had to catch. Her hand was there, but the foot was just a little off,” Beimes said.
What helped Kamehameha was a tough routine.
“We have a very high degree of difficulty,” Beimes noted.
That gave Kamehameha a cushion that afforded that mistake, and a 314.5-point total was enough to get past Moanalua (303.5) and Mililani (303.5). With a larger crew, the potential for error increases. Beimes says it’s a necessity, though, with the amount of talent that develops in Kamehameha’s system.
“We just had a lot of talent. We’re building them young and we have bigger pools,” she said, noting that the skill level is a reason why she has increased the challenges for her team’s routine.
“It’s a very high degree of difficulty, but we do it because we know the girls can handle it,” Beimes said. “They spend the summer lifting weights twice a week and running every day.”
Bega, a senior base, is glad the Warriors still have the UCA national championships ahead in February at Disney World (Orlando, Fla.).
“We shouldn’t settle for this win,” she said. “We’ll use this as our drive.”
Senior co-captain Robbi Bulatao agreed.
“Our coaches always train us to never settle for a drop,” she said. “It’s been much different for Bega and I. We were used to 12 (cheerleaders), but we came together really strong.”
Radford, meanwhile, had its mistake early in its routine, also on a lift. It was enough to rattle the Rams, though they regrouped and performed with their usual acrobatic flair. Once the routine was done, however, a few of the Rams dropped their heads.
Despite the early error, Radford amassed 286 points, ahead of Waiakea (279.5) and Kapolei (276.5) in the field of 11 entries.
It was the fifth state crown for Radford, all under coach Bo Frank. He and his team weren’t exactly pleased with their latest title. Frank said the team’s goal was to break the state record of 354 points; the Rams had scored 350 and 349 points in Oahu Interscholastic Association competition.
“The energy went away trying to finish the routine,” Frank said. “It wasn’t a Radford routine, but the kind of difficulty (of the routine) really carried us through.”
Recovering from the drop wasn’t something they plan, either.
“We don’t really practice that ’cause we don’t usually drop,” Frank added. “Our five seniors showed leadership. That full-up, they finished the stunt.”
Flyer and co-captain Tiana Paling was in that stunt. She never lost her cool.
“We know there’s more points we can get, so we kept going,” she said.
Radford and Kamehameha aren’t done yet. Both teams head to national competitions soon. Radford will be in the NCA championships in Dallas, Texas.
The Rams plan to return to form.
“We need to find the energy we had earlier in the year,” Paling said.
Co-captain Malyssa Barbasa believes the upcoming two weeks before nationals are the biggest test.
“When we’re at practice, we’ll need to focus,” she said.
Unlike the three-week break between the regular season and the state championships, Frank plans to sharpen training for nationals.
“NCA is more showy, so we’ll do more tricks,” he said.