By Jason Wesseldyk
ROCKFORD—Less than 13 points.
That’s all that stood between the Allegan competitive cheer team and a trip to the Division 3 state finals.
The Tigers finished in fifth place with 715.9 points, while Lakewood placed fourth with 728.82 points to claim the final qualifying slot.
Hopkins was also among the 12 participants, with the Vikings placing 10th with 671.5 points in their first regional appearance in program history.
The fourth-place finish for Allegan marks an improvement over the ninth-place showing last season.
“Regionals was a great steppingstone for our program,” Allegan coach Nicole Durr said. “The team put their best three rounds of the season on the mat, performing with passion and confidence.
“I was so proud of them, as they proved they belonged in the top echelon of Division 3 teams in the state.”
The Tigers scored 210.3 points in round one to sit in ninth place, but jumped to fifth after scoring 211.6 in round two. Allegan scored 294 points in round three.
“Our round-one score was a bit lower than normal and I didn’t feel like it really reflected what we put on the mat,” Durr said. “But despite that minor setback, we had our best round-two score of the season and also had very clean and exciting round three with no major deductions. It was a great comeback for the girls and shows how hard they have worked this season.
“This season was definitely a big step in the right direction to improve our program and will push us to a higher level for the years to come.”
Durr credited the team’s seven seniors—Cadyn DeGroff, Faith Williams, Hannah Vandevooren, Lillie Barnhart, Alaina Carpenter, Titta Peltonen and Kaylee Flora—with helping to set the tone for the season’s success.
“Our seniors were all very integral in the success of our team,” Durr said. “Without the great senior leadership, we would not have been able to have all the success we did this season and they will be greatly missed next year.
“We do have a great group of underclassmen that will continue their legacy next year and will have a great foundation to build on because of the seniors. I am very optimistic for the future of our program, as we had a very successful season with our middle school team. We will have some great incoming freshman for next season who are talented and hard working.”
In addition to the seniors, Durr thanked the team members’ parents for their support.
“And I also want to thank the Allegan Sports Boosters and the Fire Department for arranging an escort out of town for the girls. It was so great for them to see that their community supports them and it really made them feel special.”
Hopkins, meanwhile, had scores of 208 in round one, 187.8 in round two and 275.7 in round three.
“There was a lot of tough competition and amazing teams,” Hopkins coach Autumn Kraima said. “We were very proud to have earned the opportunity to compete at regionals. We were able to make changes during the week to our round three and were able to max out our scoresheet.”
Hopkins’ round-three score and overall score represented school records.
The Vikings had four seniors on the roster: Amanda Burch, Sierra Smith, Neveah Stevens and Nathalia Fernandes.
Burch and Stevens have cheered both competitive and sideline all four years of high school. Smith, who dual sports with basketball, has competed the past three years. Fernandez is an exchange student from Brazil.
“We are very proud of our seniors and would like to thank them for their hard work and dedication to the team,” Kraima said.