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Oak Harbor edged out at state | Cheer
That is all that separated the Oak Harbor High School cheer team from earning a state championship at the University of Washington in Seattle Saturday, Jan. 26.
The second-place finish was the fourth time the Wildcats have been runners-up in the past six seasons.
Hanford edged Oak Harbor 237 to 235 among the five teams who qualified for the small 1A/2A/3A division. "Small" teams include 12 members and no more than one male.
The Hanford-Oak Harbor battle was the closest in the 10 divisions; only one other was decided by less than 14 points.
It was a tough loss for the Wildcats, who have been practicing since November for the opportunity to show off their two minute, 20 second routine at state.
After completing their routine, the Wildcats collapsed in each other arms, tears of joy streaming down their faces.
The difficulty of the routine was over, but not the waiting. Oak Harbor had to sit five hours for the remainder of the competition to be completed before finding out its standing.
"We left out hearts out on the mat," said senior Chylah Bass.
Oak Harbor coach Robin Gohn called this group her Dream Team. The 14-person squad (two were alternates who didn't compete because of injuries) features 11 seniors. Not only is the team veteran-ladened and talented, Gohn said, but displays outstanding personal qualities.
She said, "I could not be more proud of the team. In my 12 years of coaching at the high school, this team is a true team where the word 'teamwork' really meant something to all of them."
This was the fourth state meet for most of the seniors.
As a group, they called it "the best ever."
Having been there before gave the team confidence, said senior Tyler O'Dell. That made the performance easier, less stressful, but it was also difficult knowing it would be their last, he added.
For most, their cheer careers are over. One senior, Jember Jansen, plans to cheer next year for Hawaii Pacific University, which she said has one of the country's top cheer programs.
Oak Harbor competed after Hanford. Gohn said Hanford's routine "had more difficulty in areas of their routine but they didn't have a more difficult routine" than Oak Harbor.
Gohn was hoping that her team's superior execution and precision would sway the judges.
"We didn't just execute our routine," Gohn said, "we performed it."
She said he team's energy level and showmanship were outstanding.
Gohn also deflected the credit of her team's performance back to the students and assistant coach Lauren Albritton.
Albritton, Gohn said, designed a perfect routine to accentuate Oak Harbor's strengths.
The team includes seniors Bass, Jansen, O'Dell, Jade Brown, Micaiah Davis, Marin Ikeda, Jenny Landingin, Brianna Quinn, Sadie Strain, Cristey Wolniakowski and Rae Wynne; junior Kaitlyn Marcus; and sophomores Juliet Aspery and Jadi Groebli.