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Erie spirit squads make Colorado proud on national stage

Tigers finish top-3 in game day pom, cheer on consecutive weekends in Florida

Erie's cheer team finished third in ...
Photo provided by Nora Roth
Erie’s cheer team finished third in the UCA national competition at the ESPN Wide World of Sports at Disney World in February.
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America’s national cheer and poms scenes may not have known Erie High School before this month, but they certainly do now.

In back-to-back weekends, the Tiger athletes from both squads made program history when both earned third-place medals in their respective nationals competitions at the ESPN Wide World of Sports at Disney World.

The EHS poms team took the first crack at nationals as three disciplines — pom, hip hop and game day — and walked away more victorious than even they imagined they would on the Universal Dance Association’s biggest stage.

The game day routine — which involves crowd raising, sidelines, a fight song and a halftime routine — finished out at third-best in the nation. Hip hop made it all the way to finals before placing ninth, and pom ended its run in the semifinals.

That meant that two of the Tigers’ routines were considered among the best 10 in the nation and the other among the top 25.

Photo provided by Chelsea Incorvaia
Erie’s poms team competes in the hip hop competition at the UDA nationals at the ESPN Wide World of Sports at Disney World in February. (Photo provided by Chelsea Incorvaia)

“I think the reason that (game day) routine was so strong was that it was sharp, very synchronized,” poms coach Chelsea Incorvaia said. “Pom is really one of our strengths and that was the end of the routine, so we ended with a really fast-paced pom routine that kind of closed out the routine and that had a lot of fast movement, sharp motions, turn sequences and really just playing up to the crowd.”

Hip hop, she said, won the crowd over by incorporating acro tricks and by staying sharply syncopated with the music.

Heidi Warlock, the senior captain of the poms team, soaked in the experience with the girls she’d worked so hard alongside to get here. The team never let the nerves kick in, not once, until they were led out onto the hip hop finals stage in front of the Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom for a live ESPN broadcast.

The past year of four-to-five practices each and every week led to that moment.

“This is the dream team,” Warlock said. “Every one of the 13 members on this team was here and was fully devoted to what we’re doing and we love it. Every single girl on this team has come to practice every day with the right intentions, wanting to be there, working as hard as we can so we can achieve our goals.”

Cheer team wins the bronze at UCA nationals

A week after the Erie poms team stunned the competition at Disney, the cheer team followed its lead.

This past weekend, the cheerleaders graced the Universal Cheerleaders Association national stage, their third time in five years, as they, too, walked away with the bronze. This group of seniors had never made the finals, despite winning the Colorado high school Class 4A state championship four years in a row.

This time, the hardware was a little bit sweeter.

“Being called for third place was such an amazing feeling, and I couldn’t have been more proud,”  senior cheer captain Kennadi Kneebone said. “When our names were called Friday night for advancing to finals, that feeling was amazing and had us all in happy tears. After that, then, when  our names were called for the third-place trophy, there was nothing but smiles and pure excitement from the team, and I think everyone was so proud of themselves.”

It helped, of course, that the competition style was right in their wheelhouse.

“UCA is a super traditional, clean, more collegiate-style cheerleading, so that’s something our team has always been super great with,” cheer head coach Nora Roth said. “We focus a lot on that clean, collegiate style just because that’s what Colorado likes to see as well.

“We had a lot of those elements added in. Our team is an exceptionally talented tumbling team, even against the top 5A teams and the top teams in nationals. Our tumbling is pretty comparative and, honestly, pretty much at the top in almost all divisions.”

The Tigers have the trophy to prove it now.

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