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Cleveland captures 5A cheer crown

Cleveland and Las Cruces were crowned Class 5A state cheerleading champions Friday at the high school state spirit championships at the Pit.

The Storm won the 5A cheer competition, while the Bulldawgs were co-ed champs.

Cleveland scored a total of 157.80 points for its two routines Friday, finishing three points ahead of runner-up Rio Rancho (154.70). Eldorado (154.55) placed third.

“It’s just the most amazing feeling,” said Cleveland coach Kyla LiRosi, who also won a state title with the Storm in 2013 when she was a member of the squad.

The Storm, as recently as the early this week, discussed only staging one routine instead of the normal two, which would have made it all but impossible for them to win state.

Two Cleveland sqaud members, one last Saturday and another Tuesday of this week, had to sit out state as they were placed under quarantine as close contacts with a COVID patient.

As a result, the Storm had to change both its routines in the past few days, and utilize girls in new positions.

“We never stopped, we never quit, we just kept going and it’s so worth it,” LiRosi said. “It was just a matter of re-arranging the girls. They stepped up and made it work.”

Cleveland senior Katelyn Thomas said the team was exhilarated having won state despite having to change routines on the fly during the last week.

“They were both critical people on our team,” Thomas said. “Our team was, like, no, we have to do this, we have to make this work.”

As there was not much advance time for cheer squads between starting their season and state spirit, there was no official state qualifying platform this spring. Teams had only to alert the New Mexico Activities Association of their intention to compete.

Half a dozen 5A schools only performed a single routine. Cleveland discussed being one of them.

“It’s been very crazy,” Thomas said. “I think we just all worked together. We had the option of being able to do only one routine and opt out of getting a blue trophy. We stuck together and made everything work with the people we have.”

Las Cruces amassed 156.40 points to become the 5A co-ed state champion. West Mesa (140.65) and Albuquerque High (140.05) also won trophies.

Lovington, by a 26-point margin, was the Class 4A co-ed champ over Bernalillo.

Taos (4A), Raton (3A) and Clayton (1A-2A) were the other cheerleading state champions along with Cleveland.

The awards ceremony was handled virtually this year by the New Mexico Activities Association – just as the dance competition, the second half of state spirit, will be handled on Saturday.

(Click here for Friday results.)

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