February 4, 2010 —
In life, lessons learned are often most difficult when learned from a sad or sorrowful experience. Saturday, March 7th, 2009, was a day of lessons learned by the Hudson High School varsity competitive cheerleading team. What did they learn that afternoon at the Delta Plex in Grand Rapids?
They learned that you can do everything well, everything right and you can do your best and still not reach your coveted goal. It was a difficult day for Lady Tiger head cheerleading coach Kelly Bailey and her squad as they had just finished as runner-up to Michigan Center at the MHSAA finals meet for the division 4 state championship. Sure, they knew, as did most everyone in attendance, that a prized goal had somehow eluded them despite their finest efforts. The judges didn’t take the title away from Hudson but instead they awarded it to Michigan Center a team that Hudson had beaten numerous times during the winter of 2008-09. The disappointment was huge and the heartbreak enormous but the sun did come up the next morning on Sunday and the team began to think of next year. Well, next year has arrived and the Hudson competitive cheers have been out doing what they always do and that is compete very well and win their competitions. Will this be the year they win it all? Who knows for sure but the only thing for certain is Bailey will not make any bold predictions this winter like last year. “I vowed to myself after last year that I would never again say we would win a state title,” said Bailey, who is back for her 13th year of leading what is arguably the most successful female sport at the local high school. “To be as successful as we were last year and to have the girls feel like they failed is not a message I want to send to them again.” Yes, Hudson had a great team last winter and came up just short but this is a new season and here is a look at this year’s squad and its members.
Three seniors lead team
Mariah Kelley is in her third season with the team and she will compete in three rounds as a flyer. She was named all-state, all-LCAA, all-district and all-region last year. Unfortunately, this year she has been slowed by a pulled hamstring muscle but expect her back for the big meets late in the season. “Getting her back into all three rounds is going to be vital for our team’s success,” notes Bailey about her senior standout. Ashley Chalker is with the team for her third season and she competes in three rounds as a base and Bailey notes she is a very solid performer.
Brandi Grames is the final senior performer who is in her third season with the team. Bailey notes she has a huge heart and is all about the team and is a hard worker. Grames performs as a back spot for the squad and is in all three rounds.
Eight juniors add depth
The team will have plenty of experience next year with eight key juniors competing this year. The class is led by Courtney Christman who is in her second year and she competes in all three rounds. She is very solid in all three rounds as a base for the team. “She has great heart and works like a champion,” said Bailey, who mentioned that Christman has been battling a pulled hamstring. “Despite the injury she has never missed a beat.”
Zoe Middleton is back for her third year and she will compete in two rounds. She is a great flyer but Bailey says a real key to the team’s success is how well Middleton does in round two. Katelyn Butts is in her third year as well and has tons of raw ability says the coach who notes Butts has a big heart and is full of effort to match. She will perform as a base. Jessica Novelo is in her third season and will be in all three rounds. She is a base and is a solid all-around performer. Next, is TrayLynne Bentley who is in her third season with the squad. She will be in all three rounds as a tumbler. Bailey says she is a solid performer and she motivates the other girls.
Katie Selix begins year three with the team and will be in all three rounds. She is a base and needs to get a solid back tuck to help the team.
Becca Barlow is in her first season with the Lady Tiger cheer squad and will compete in two rounds as a back spot. The final junior, of this elite eight group, is Wendy Cox who is in her third campaign with the team. She will be in one round as a back spot.
A trio of sophomores
Ashley Schneider can pretty much do it all for the team. She is in her second season and will be in all three rounds. “She is very good in all three rounds, is a great tumbler and is a huge asset to the team,” said Bailey. “She is currently helping us as a flyer while Mariah is injured but will be a tumbler when Mariah returns.”
Keri Yowtz is in her first season with the varsity and was pulled up late last year to help the team. She is a flyer and will compete in all three rounds. “She continues to get better and her flying ability will be a key to our success,” Bailey said.
Tylor Jones is a hard worker who is in her first year and she will compete in one round.
Three freshmen round out team
Payton Darr is in all three rounds as an exceptional tumbler and is a team player according to Bailey. Katie Mattison is in three rounds as well and has pleasantly surprised Bailey with her ability. The coach hopes to see her back tuck improve for the team’s overall success. Amanda Rodriguez is another one who needs to get her back tuck for the team. She will be in two rounds and is a hard worker.
Thus far into the 2009-10 season the Hudson girls are undefeated in league play. Hudson is currently holding a 10-year streak of success in winning the LCAA crown. Look for this to year 11 that the Lady Tigers take the league title. The final LCAA meet of the season will be at home next Wednesday the 10th and look for Hudson to dominate that meet.
An exciting addition to the schedule will be that Hudson will be hosting the division 4 district event at the local high school on Saturday, February 20th. “It would be a huge upset if we didn’t win the district crown,” said Bailey. Four teams will advance from the district to the regional meet at Mason on Saturday the 27th. It is there that Hudson will run into Michigan Center again. The Lady Cardinals will also host a district and the four advancers from the two districts head to Mason for the regional meet. “Our goal is to win the regional but I mostly just want us to advance from the regional to make the state finals,” said Bailey. “I will be happy being in the top four and making it to the state meet.” Hudson and Center are both 1-1 in the two meets that they have competed against one another. Bailey also sees perennial power Pewamo-Westphalia as being strong again. P-W beat Center earlier this year. Colon, Ithaca and Merrill are also teams to take note of at the regional and state meets. “A lot of teams are really stepping it up and it should be a real interesting state final,” said Bailey.
In looking at the March 6th state finals meet Bailey is cautiously optimistic, especially in light of last year’s stunning runner-up finish.
Can we win it all? Yes, but all we can do is continue to work as hard as we can and hopefully we will peak at the right time to earn as high of spot as we can. The girls know what they need to do and we will have to put our best out there and see what happens. We need to get the girls to continue to build their confidence.”
Bailey is hoping for a good turnout of fans at the final two homes meets on the 10th at 6:00 and on the 20th starting at 9:00. Then the biggest one will be March 6th in Grand Rapids at the Delta Plex at high noon.
Good Luck Lady Tiger cheerleaders!