Competitive cheer wins conference crown

Ron Burtz
Fresh off an unexpected win of the Black Hills Conference championship last week, the Custer competitive cheer team is looking forward with expectation to the state A cheer and dance meet in Aberdeen this week. 
The team earned a score of 120.5 at the conference meet in Belle Fourche on Thursday beating out second-place Sturgis by four points (116.5). Douglas placed third in the competition with 115.5 points, Hot Springs was fourth with 109.5 and Belle Fourche came in last with 106 points. 
Coach Tiffany Newman says her reaction to the win was shock. 
“When they announced Custer as first place I was not expecting it,” said Newman. “I knew that we had a very strong performance, but I also was critiquing what could be improved looking forward to state.”
Newman says her team was just as shocked.
“As they were announcing places, we all had the same thought process of who we assumed won,” said Newman, “but when it was us the excitement set in. Hugs, laughter, tears – all the expected reactions when we were not expecting this outcome.” 
A bonus to the win, according to Newman, was how the team members felt about their performance. 
“The girls walked off the mat expressing that they had fun with the performance,” said Newman, “and that definitely showed!”
Because of injuries, three girls were sidelined mid-season meaning the team had to be pared down to six and the routine had to be changed. However, Newman says, there was a silver lining in that. The now smaller team could increase the difficulty of stunts thus boosting the potential for higher scores from the judges. 
“From the changes we made to the difficulty of our stunts our scores definitely improved,” said Newman. “Difficulty and execution went up across the board, which is exactly what we were hoping to see in our last few days before our final performance at state.”
The team did have a safety penalty in the routine at the conference meet resulting in a two-point deduction, however it was not enough to make a difference in the outcome. 
“At the beginning of the music the first stunt went up and the flier went backwards,” said Newman, adding, “not what you wanted to see happen. Of course from the angle I was standing at, I could not tell exactly what happened, however, the stunt adjusted backwards and they caught the flier.”
In making the adjustment Newman says one of the bases touched the ground, which resulted in the deduction.
“Even though we want to avoid penalties,” says Newman, “something like this is one that just could not be avoided given the situation.”
Newman said on Tuesday things are looking great for the team as they head out Thursday for the state tournament in Aberdeen  
“We have three practices left to work on adding in a few new difficult transitions and tosses to stunts,” said Newman, “and then, of course perfecting motions, technique, tumbling and jumps.”
The Wildcat cheer squad will perform Friday at 6:11 p.m.—5:11 Mountain Time. The performance will be telecast live on South Dakota Public Broadcasting.  

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