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Cheer team finishes as state runners up

The Pueblo West Cheer Team gave two outstanding performances at the CHSAA 4A High School Championships and finished as the 2013 State Runner Up.

The second place finish was the highest in the program’s relatively brief history, and one that the 17 Cyclones varsity cheerleaders will never forget.

If you have not watched competitive high school or college cheer in person or on TV, suffice it to say that it is a far cry from any cheerleading done in the “old days.”

Today’s competitive teams are made up of exceptional athletes that throw down an amazing array of powerful and precise stunts (lifts and throws), tumbling runs, jumps, dance moves and cheers in what could be called the “wildest two minutes and thirty seconds in sports!”

The Cyclones were one of 40 teams in the 4A State Competition Cheer event that was held at the Denver Coliseum this past weekend.

All 40 teams competed in the preliminary round, with only eight teams advancing to the finals. Pueblo West left no doubt that they would be among the finalists after they executed a jaw-dropping, high-skills and mega-high-energy performance in the preliminary round.

Veteran Head Coach Deneen Ruiz knows what it takes to be among the top-tier cheer teams in the state.

Ruiz has been coaching competitive high school cheer for 17 years — the past four years at Pueblo West High School.

The Cyclones have finished in the State Final 8 all four of those years.

“We have set very high expectations for our competition cheer squad at West,” Ruiz, said.

“These girls work year-round to master the skills and the precision teamwork that is needed to win at this level.

“They have made a lot of sacrifices. I am very proud of all of them.”

Ruiz also had high praise for her assistant, Cassy Gibbons, who also has been with the West program for the past four years.

Pueblo West was sitting fourth overall after the preliminary round.

Since all of the finalist have top-flight preliminary performances, it is generally very difficult to move up in the final round.

But West dazzled the crowd and the judges with another outstanding performance, and vaulted to the Runner Up position.

Broomfield was crowed the champions.

Palmer Ridge, Glenwood Springs, Erie, Valor Christian, Sand Creek and Coronado rounded out the top-8 finishers.

The Cyclones State Runner Up team includes freshmen; Lexi Craddock, Annmarie Parker and Emily Runyon; sophomores Emily Blood, Carlisle Caponera, Kalie Furney, Skye Hinkley and Haley Ruiz; juniors Rayna Asbury, Bryanna Houser and Courtney Schlup; and seniors Marriah Dolick, Brandi Flynn, Olivia Kersey, Elauna Lujan, Jayden Montera and Mari Young. Young was also named to the 8-member All State Team.

There were lots of hugs and tears of joy as the team results were announced.

The team hoisted their beautiful trophy with great pride, and each cheerleader took time to hold it, kiss it, and savor the thrill of victory.

Some even lifted the hardware to the rafters with their award-winning “Arabesque Double” lifts.

This was their tangible reward for years of hard work and dedication to a varsity high school sport that is often overlooked and misunderstood.

This was their well-deserved opportunity to leave a lasting symbol of success in the trophy case at Pueblo West High School, officials said.

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