The Charlotte High School varsity competitive cheer team didn’t simply have a successful season, it was dominant. Even by its own lofty standards.
That season came to an end Saturday, March 2 at the Delta Plex in Grand Rapids, where the Orioles put forth one of their best efforts of the season to place fourth in Division at the MHSAA State Finals. It was Charlotte’s third straight trip to the State Finals.
“We are so incredibly proud of what we have accomplished together this season,” said head coach Yvonne Ridge. “The girls are top athletes, academically strong and community minded, they have it all.”
Ridge said the team started strong in Round 1, bringing enthusiastic voices and powerful jumps.
“All our skills stuck in Round 2 and the excitement showed,” she said. “Round 3, wow! We do 18 one-legged extensions and they all hit! The team put it all on the mat!”
But more than the finals performance, Ridge said the team continuously improved throughout the season, leading to eventually breaking every school competitive cheer record more than once.
“We were ranked in the Top 10 in the State in every Round as well as overall score for the entire season,” Ridge said. “We consistently scored over 760.”
Guided by team captains, Mady Conklin, McKenzie Bleisch, and Lauren Wietzke, the Orioles captured their eighth-straight league title, even after moving up a division to compete with larger schools.
“Taking home the league championship this year was monumental because it was Charlotte’s eighth straight league title, and this year we were up against tougher competition and we still all pulled through,” Bleisch said.
Bleisch said it’s been an honor to be a part of such a successful program, which makes it much more difficult now that her time as an Oriole cheerleader has come to an end.
“My last performance as a CHS competitive cheerleader is very bittersweet,” she said. “I believe my team and I put everything we had out on the mat for the last time and the feeling we all had knowing we gave it our all, was truly amazing.”
Ridge said her senior leaders made sure to get the best from their squad every time they took the mat.
“They take competitive cheerleading very seriously and have pushed our team to be the best,” Ridge said. “They have all received countless Academic All State Honors, League, District, Regional and State Athletic Honors. They lead by example and their knowledge, enthusiasm and love for the sport carries to every athlete on the team.”
In addition to finishing in the top four in the state, and capturing another league title, the Orioles took home 10 first place finishes during competitions this season; finished second twice, and placed third at Regionals.
“This team of athletes has been an honor to coach and are absolutely amazing,” Ridge said.
“We always say, ‘do it for the girl next to you,’ and that’s exactly what everyone did,” said Conklin. “We couldn’t have done it without our awesome six coaches. They always pushed us to be better, and always knew how to pump us up and get us ready to go on. We built it up to where we are, and being a part of that is great.”