Thunderbirds Shine at State Cheer Competition

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Dan Morris

Led by senior Zak Whisenhunt, the EHS cheer team does a group jump during their Co-Ed routine at the WHSAA State Spirit competition. The T-Birds placed third.

Alyson Jones

Cheerleading requires an extreme amount of bravery, flexibility, courage, strength, and so much more. The athletes must work through mental blocks and injuries if they hope to become the best in the state. Sitting in the stands, fans only see a sliver of the talent and skill needed to be the best, but behind the scenes these athletes are pushing themselves to show what they can do individually and as a team.

At the 2020 Wyoming State Spirit Meet, on March 11, East High’s cheer squad put on one of the best showings of the day, bringing home three 3rd place trophies. They placed in Game Day, All-Girl Stunt and Co-Ed. The athletes and coaches put in long hours to create routines they felt were strong enough to place and, possibly, win. As with every season, they came into Casper for the 2020 state meet in March hoping for a championship.

“Being at state made me really nervous because everything I did mattered and could change the outcome” said sophomore Levi Oedekoven.

With sweaty palms and knotted stomachs, the team awaited their time to shine on the mat. They carefully watched, and at times encouraged, the other teams’ routines, while rehearsing their own in their heads. It was a nerve-wracking wait for the team and supporters. However, when it was their turn, they stepped onto the mat and did what they know how to do best.

“I was scared before we competed on the floor, and after every routine,” says senior Braeden Stewart. “I knew we did our very best, and it was the proudest moment in my life as a captain.”

After battling through nerves and doing all they could to shine, the team stepped off

the mat to loud cheers from their supporters and rival teams. The hardest part of a cheer competition is leaving things in the judges’ hands. There is so much that is unknown. The team was confident they completely showed off their talent and owned the floor, but no one can guess how the judges felt.

Finally, the moment came for the revealing of the scores and who would be named the 2020 champions. With a loud roar of applause, East High’s co-ed team was announced as finishing in third place, followed by Green River placing second, and then South High as champions.

While the Thunderbirds would not be going home with a first-place trophy, their coach Emili Brooksmith was still as proud of them, as she always is.

“It’s always a nice day when you bring home hardware, and we’re just super proud of these kids,” she says. “They came out and put on a show.”

Even though the team was focused on the excitement of the day, there also was plenty of sorrow, knowing this was the end of the season. All the hard work, dedication and love came down to these final moments. The team celebrated and hugged each other tightly, knowing they would be hanging up their uniforms very soon. They laughed, smiled, cried and shared memories of the year, and they were satisfied knowing that it was one to remember.

Zak Whisenhunt, senior, was emotional about the end of his time on the team. “Cheer has shown me what a true team looks like and how we can come together and conquer anything,” he said. “It will always have a place in my heart, and I will always and forever love the team I have. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

Cheer is a sport full of emotion, teamwork and love. It takes more than just raw talent to win as State. This group shows how a team can come together to trust each other and build friendships and to win. Now, the next goal is the state title.