Local teams receive top prizes in state competitions

Local teams receive top prizes in state competitions

Plant City High School (Scotty Snape Mesquita) Strawberry Crest High School (Melissa Alfonso) Durant High School (Olivia Erker)

Plant City High School, Durant High School, and Strawberry Crest High School all traveled to the RP Funding Center in Lakeland, Feb. 2, to compete against other Florida high school cheerleading squads for a chance to win state championships, and they all took home gold.

-Plant City High School won the Intermediate Non-Regression Division

-Durant High School won the non-tumble junior division

-Strawberry Crest won the Junior Mixed Division

All three teams qualified for the national competition, which was held this weekend at ESPN’s Wide World Of Sports Complex in Orlando.

Durant High School cheerleading coach Savannah Kolanowski explained how the team felt heading into the competition. “In the words of one of our athletes, Kyra Hodge, this team was ‘hungry but humble,’ which I think describes these athletes perfectly,” Kolanowski said. After ten years of coaching the Durant Cheerleading Team, I can confidently say that there has never been a more prepared team than this one going to USA. Physical preparation is one thing, but the mental toughness of this team in the week leading up to states was truly next level. The team knew that to keep their dream alive, they had to follow two perfect routines. With that pressure on their backs, we, as a coaching staff, knew that mental toughness would be the deciding factor in whether or not this team could pull it off. The team prepared for every scenario and pushed themselves in every practice before Friday’s competition. The discipline these girls have built mentally and physically and the bond that has grown between them as a team was evident in their confidence as they arrived at the state competition.

Heading into nationals, the Cougars achieved their goal, so what happens next will be the icing on the cake. “Our goal for the season was to win a state title,” Kilanowski said. “Now that we have achieved that, Nationals for us is about having fun and enjoying the last moments we have together as a team. We will prepare the same way we did for states, working on our mental toughness and getting reps to help with consistency in the routine. With Achieving our primary goal for the season, the pressure is off and all we want is to go out and put amazing routines on the mat. As coaches, we want to make sure the team is focused on enjoying this time, regardless of the outcome of the National Championship.

Plant City High School also had a goal of bringing home another state championship. He added: “As soon as this season started, we started working to achieve the goal of returning home with another championship.”

said Scotty Mesquita, cheerleading coach at Plant City High School. “We knew this team had the skills and the routine, but it was the mental toughness and confidence that would be the deciding factor in whether they could come out on top. After months of mental and physical preparation, we were confident that we would succeed if we stuck to the routine. In the run-up to the finals State specifically, we had a really great routine and won the Western Conference, and a phenomenal week of practice. At the end of the day, we were just focusing on us and doing our best in the competition!

The state championships gave them a boost of confidence heading into the national competition. “I think this win gives the team more confidence heading into the National Championships and I know they are excited to have another opportunity to put a better routine on the floor,” said Coach Mesquita. “Apart from winning our sectional at State, we had the second highest finish out of all of the 2A teams, sitting behind only Bartow, which is a great program. This builds more confidence in our girls and reminds them of what they are capable of. We have taken it to the next level Every year at Nationals. We placed 6th in 2020 and 2021, 5th in 2022, and 3rd last season. We have big goals for Nationals this year and are focused on achieving confident, clean results that lead us to a history-making result!

Strawberry Crest is prepared for state competition. “We felt very confident and ready to win,” coach Luvini Rivas Savarino said. “We have prepared our minds for the big moment as well as physically. We have had great practices all week with hard, clean hitting. This will be the team that wins our 10th straight state title for Strawberry Crest High School, and we have spent a lot of time preparing for this moment, so we felt ready to perform.” Under this pressure.

The Chargers are no stranger to winning. “Our program won national championships in 2020, and every team since then has had a goal of becoming national champions again,” Savarino said. “Our program is consistently in the top four in a very tough, competitive and talented division. Although winning states is an accomplishment in itself, we understand the high level of competition that lies ahead and we continue to train hard mentally and physically for our moments in front of the famous Castle at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

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