Pom, cheer practice extra hard for nationals after unexpected state championship


Desiree Houg

Varsity show cheer takes the mat at state in March. Both pom and cheer will compete at nationals in Florida April 21-25

On Mar 6, both pom and cheer competed at the state championship. The cheer teams competing were show cheer and a five man stunt group, and the pom teams were jazz and varsity pom. For both teams, the results of the competition were not what they expected.

After cheer hit zero at previous competitions (meaning finishing the routine with no falls and no other deductions) and placed first at qualifications for state, their routine at state came as a surprise. 

“We had multiple stunt falls in our routine,” said senior cheer captain Sofia Voronova adding, “we ended up placing third and even though we didn’t place how we wanted, we are still super excited to redeem ourselves in Florida for nationals!”

As for pom, their state performance and results were a bit more controversial. Their jazz routine placed third and varsity pom took seventh, despite the team performing what they felt were their best routines of the season. 

In pom, teams are allowed to get help from judges where they will clean and/or give their input on the teams routines. Last year, Perry had a judge clean their routine, but they chose not to this year. At state, the Pumas were the only team that did not have a judge clean their routines.

Junior Maya Miller explained that all of the teams whose routines were cleaned by judges had the same intro and other very similar aspects throughout their routines. While it is not illegal to use judges for corrections, the Pumas felt they would be better off working by themselves considering what they experienced last year.

“I think it was one of our best performances,” said Miller, “and I think we were all happy with how we danced at the end of the day.”

Both pom and cheer will be attending nationals in Florida on Apr. 21-25. Other school districts are not allowing their teams to fly out, so Perry is one of only two Arizona teams going to Florida. 

“We are working on the consistency of our stunts so we can be more confident going in,” said Voronova, “as well as working on our performance energy because it is super difficult to create that same energy while wearing masks.”

For show cheer, part of their performance includes cheers with signs that are similar to those at sports games. Now that they have to wear masks, they have to put in even more effort to make sure they are being heard while still sounding full of energy. 

“We are adding more dynamics to the piece and really making sure we are in the right mindset before we step foot on stage at Florida,” Miller said. 

“The girls this year are insanely dedicated,” coach Tenneal Howard said, “so as long as they do not let the results keep them down, I’m confident they will do great at nationals.”

Having over one month between state and nationals is a long break from competition, but neither team has let that stop them. Both have been using the time to their advantage and are spending all their practice time working to fix what went wrong at state.