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STATE SPIRIT CHEERLEADING CHAMPIONSHIPS

By Arnie Leshin
Interesting, Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language spells “spirit” with a hyphen “spir-it” and its definitions of the word is as following, Give-giving force, Cap, Ghost, Alcohol liquor and Vivacity or enthusiasm. 
So it looks best to list “enthusiasm” when reporting on the annual state spirit championships run by the New Mexico Activities Association at the University of New Mexico Pit.
The two-day competition concluded Friday with Pecos taking 3rd in 2A with a score of 130.5, Raton winning 3A ahead of runner-up West Las Vegas, Taos on top in 4A, and Rio Rancho leading the field in 5A.
All these schools did the required two routines to qualify for a podium finish. Out of 57 schools in the field, 14 opted for only one performance.
It was enthusiasm times for these coaches and competitors after not having this event last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Some said they had about six weeks of practice, some had very little practice, but still wanted to be there and perform on the mat.
Santa Fe High’s lone competition came only on a performance at the school Wednesday in an exhibition before the parents. Capital and St. Michael’s also had very little practice because of some of their athletes indulged in other school sports.
Pecos head coach Jessica Flores said she had several cheerleaders who played on the Panthers’ girls state championship basketball team, and so she had to allow these girls to have time off for basketball practice and held some of her practice starting at 4 a.m. and continuing until late in the day.
“Progress,” Flores said, “we made progress and it was great focusing more on letting the girls have their moments of joy rather than simply trying to earn a blue trophy. And we were lucky just to be performing.”
Many of the coaches said they juggled practice times to develop skills and routines. Plus, they had athletes who sometimes had to balance their times with schoolwork, as well as practices for girls in multiple sports.
But to everyone involved, it was great to fit this event in this time. And it no doubt brought enthusiasm.

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