To say the Charlotte High School competitive cheer team is on a roll would be more than an understatement. The Orioles capped off another record-setting regular season by winning their eighth consecutive league title. The team tied Division 2 DeWitt for the CAAC Red title, competing as the only Division 3 team in the CAAC Red.
While winning an eighth consecutive league championship is impressive, they did it while seemingly setting a new school record each time out.
The Orioles secured 10 first place finishes this season, adding two second place finishes in regular season competitions. They ended the regular season on Feb. 11 at Gull Lake High School with a school-record 319.2 out of 324 in round 3, the second-highest score in Division 3 in the state.
“Like many teams we have had our share of setbacks but the girls handled them like champions,” said head coach Yvonne Ridge, who has coached the varsity cheer team for 17 seasons. “Everything that has happened throughout the season has made the team stronger and more confident. The passion, dedication and determination this team exhibits everyday is a coaches dream. It’s been an amazing ride, but it’s not finished yet.”
Ridge said competing in the CAAC Red division, against Division 2 teams, provided exactly what the team needed to prepare for Districts.
“The team continues to work hard at practices,” Ridge said. “One of our greatest improvements from last year is tumbling. The team started working with Ramon Beaulieu, owner of Maxathletics at the end of our 2017-18 season and has seen tremendous improvement in each athlete.”
Ridge credited some of the team’s improvement to the Charlotte Athletic Boosters, which purchased Maxathletics air tracks for the team last June.
“The air tracks are used the first 45 minutes of every practice,” Ridge said. “The use of the air tracks has made tumbling safer and has helped the girls to get stronger and gain confidence.”
The team is led by senior captains, Mady Conklin, Kenzie Bleisch and Lauren Wietzke.
“The three of them lead by example and have the respect of the coaches and athletes,” Ridge said. “They push the team and help to make the team better everyday. They compete in all three rounds of competition, along with junior Erica Brock, sophomore Julia Phillips and freshmen Cara Rankin and Dakota Gerard.”
Ridge is assisted by Liz Hoogstra, who has been with the team for nine seasons, and Kerry White and Heather Hammond, who have been with the team for the past two seasons.
“The team is fortunate to have such a great coaching staff that is dedicated to make this an amazing season for the Charlotte Varsity Team,” Ridge said.
District Competition will take place on Saturday, Feb. 16 at Chesaning High School. The top four teams to place at Districts will advance to Regional Competition on Feb. 23.