Cheers abound, sirens blare as Morgan High‰Ûªs peppiest team takes state

Cheers abound, sirens blare as Morgan High‰Ûªs peppiest team takes state

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Who could have scripted a more perfect ending? Knowing that their coach was stepping down at the end of the cheer season, the Morgan varsity cheer team delivered its most compelling performance of the year and took home the state championship in front of an overflow crowd at Salt Lake Community College on Jan. 31, 2015. In the process, Coach Tammy Bullock cemented her legacy as one of the most accomplished MHS coaches of all-time, leading her team to a fourth state championship in the past eight years. The team won the Varsity All-Girls Show Cheer, which is the most demanding and acclaimed event in the world of high school cheer. The Show Cheer, which is 2.5 minutes long, combines stunting, cheering, dancing and tumbling. During the day, the best of the best teams performed, having qualified based on posting top scores at the region competition. Until recently, the teams ability to compete at the highest level was dubious. While the team boasts five experienced senior cheerleaders (Paige Malan, Shaylee Kilmer, Karli Dotson, Lexus Toomer & Shelby Prockhnow (injured), the majority of team members are underclassmen without prior varsity experience. Bullock explained: ‰Three weeks ago, we werent prepared for the region or state championship. At that time, though, the girls buckled down mentally, things clicked and we realized we needed to work harder and be more driven. We were able to get everything to come together and peaked at the right time.‰Û On the day of the event, Bullock observed that, ‰The Morgan crowd was large. Its the best support weve ever had at a cheer event. In addition to all the parents and relatives, there were a lot of athletes from MHS teams that we supported. To hear their positive feedback and support was amazing and had a 12th-man effect on us.‰Û Morgan was slotted to perform second-to-last in the 3A division, just before 2014 defending state champion, Desert Hills. Bullock noted that ‰Snow Canyons routine earlier in the day really stood out. They were pretty clean, but had some penalties. We knew they would be tough to beat.‰Û In cheer competitions, penalties occur for stepping out of bounds or on props (signs, poms) and performing illegal stunts. MHSs routine was well worth the wait. The teams high-spirited performance included advanced stunting, fast-paced tumbling and according to their coach was ‰a very clean performance with just a couple of bobbles, but overall it was probably our best performance of the year. It was penalty-free and the girls were incredible.‰Û Desert Hills trotted out 30 cheerleaders for their routine, which at times caused the group to appear cluttered and disorganized and led to some penalties. Bullock, however, praised her rivals performance as ‰very technical; they pulled off some great stunts. We thought it might come down to Snow Canyon, Desert Hills and us.‰Û After an eventful day, all the teams gathered together on the gym floor and winners were announced. Third place was awarded to Richfield; second place went to Snow Canyon. Then, the Desert Hills crowd inexplicably starting celebrating what they thought was certain victory; several Thunder cheerleaders began pounding the mat and screaming in delight and one Desert Hills cheer team member stood up as if she were headed to the trophy desk. When the announcer exclaimed that Morgan was the State Champion, Trojan fans erupted, the Thunder crowd went silent and the MHS cheer team stood up, embraced, jumped up and down, screamed and let celebratory tears flow for several minutes. Three performers from the 2012 State Championship team‰ÛÓShayli Kilmer, Lexus Toomer and Paige Malan‰ÛÓwere able to enjoy the feeling of being named to the top 3A Utah cheer team once again. Kilmer, who will enroll at Weber State or BYU next fall, said her teams performance ‰Felt amazing and was very strong. We did fabulous, about as well as we could do. When we were announced as the winner, it took a second to register. The first person I saw after the announcement was Brinley Dotson, and my legs went numb. She was holding me up. We were ecstatic! We couldnt believe it!‰Û Toomer, who will matriculate at Utah Valley University, contrasted the 2012 and 2015 titles. ‰The award was even more special this year. Back in 2012, I was a freshman and just lucky to be on the competition team. This year, the seniors were charged with helping all the other cheerleaders and taking on leadership roles, which made everything more special to me.‰Û Regarding her cheer coach, Toomer offered this tribute: ‰Tammy was a great coach. She knew what was best for us and knew what she was talking about. She pushed us to do our very best. She set high expectations and she knew we could do it. I am so glad we were able to.‰Û Malan, who will cheer at the collegiate level next year, is the flyer fans usually see in the middle of all the stunt groups during halftime performances and competitions. Reflecting on the teams efforts, she said, ‰We left it all on the mats. We performed well with no regrets.‰Û However, prior to the awards ceremony, Malan felt ‰like I was gonna throw up, I was so nervous. Then, I thought maybe we wouldnt place at all since the other teams were all so good. I was holding pinkies with Taylor Sowder and Kiah Jones on the mats while we waited. When they announced us as the winner, I looked at Karli Dotson and we just started crying. Then we all stood up, grabbed each other and celebrated. All our hard work, all the practices were so worth it.‰Û Morgans cheer accomplishments are no fluke. Success came after months of careful, and at times exhausting, preparation. Without question, no team at MHS outworks the cheerleaders. Bullocks teams are well-known for their trademark three-hour daily practices, two-a-days, summer conditioning (running, lifting weights), intense focus, competitive drive and maniacal attention to detail. Coach Bullock commented that ‰to be a successful team, we need talent, strength, determination, and a great attitude. The sacrifice these girls make is amazing. They cheer late at games, practice before or after school, stay focused on academics, battle injuries and come together to perform.‰Û Coach Bullocks interest in cheerleading started as a young child when she and her friends cheered at youth games in Morgan. She would later cheer at Morgan High School, where ‰our cheer team didnt have a coach.‰Û Bullock initially coached for seven years at MHS, then stepped down while raising her children. Several years later, she returned to the cheer world and learned that things had changed substantially since her first tour. ‰Cheer had evolved and changed a lot. There was a new level of competitiveness and stunting had taken over cheerleading. It was clear cheerleading was now a competitive sport with very strong athletes.‰Û Bullock offered some advice for younger students who are interested in high school cheer. ‰Work hard and have a positive outlook. Take a cheer class in addition to any tumbling or dance classes you might be taking. Your understanding and knowledge will be so much greater when you enter high school if you start preparing earlier.‰Û What a year for the cheer team‰ÛÓ2015 Region Champs; 2015 State Champs!!! Members of the 2015 State Champion Cheer Team are as follows: Seniors-Karli Dotson, Shayli Kilmer, Shelby Prochnow, Lexus Toomer, Paige Malan. Juniors-Bailey Kelsey, Rylie Mecham, Michaela Mortenson, Taylor Ralls, Taylor Sowder, Meg Wilkinson. Sophomores- Brinley Dotson, Hailey Green, Kate Jarrett, Alyssa Nelson, Kaylee Nelson, Natalie Nielsen Freshmen- MaKinley Beardall, Kenadi Bigelow, Natalie Crowther, Briglyn Dorius Ellie Johnson, Emma Johnson, Kiah Jones, Abby Larson. Assisting Coach Bullock were Taylor Hoffman (former MHS cheerleader), Sue Ann Kelsey (Jr. High cheer coach at Sunset), Stetson Rapier (Weber State cheerleader), Mindy Stout Tolbert (choreography) and Mikarie Kelsey (former SUU cheer and UVU dance team member).

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