Wiesbaden, AOSR and AFNORTH crowned cheer champions
Stars and Stripes February 18, 2023
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — It was only about a week before this year’s DODEA-Europe Cheerleading Championships when Wiesbaden High School’s cheer squad received shocking news: Their head cheerleader had fractured her ankle and wouldn’t be able to compete.
Senior Jessica Hall was the only four-year member of the team and it was too late to replace her.
On Friday, the Warriors performed a routine they were forced to amend last-minute to include just 11 cheerleaders. It still included human pyramids, flag twirls and larger-than-life smiles. And it was enough to have them crowned Division I team champions.
“It went as well as is possibly could have,” Wiesbaden coach Jamie Cook said after the hours-long competition at Kaiserslautern High School. “We were able to come together and make it work and push ourselves to be really good.”
Sophomore Jack Hatch — one of four boys on the Wiesbaden squad and one of its standout members — started the Warriors off with a back flip at the front of the mat.
“Most of us were really nervous, but we tried to stay calm,” Hatch said, adding that last-minute changes can compound nerves. “With Jessica Hall fracturing her ankle, it just shows that we don’t need the best cheerleader to win. We won because we’re a team.”
Hall watched her teammates from the sidelines and was able to show support when they called on the crowd to shout out their school’s initials and colors: “W! H! S! Blue! White! Gold!”
“I’m so proud of them,” Hall said. “I had many opportunities to compete, so I was just happy to watch them do it. It was the best routine they’ve ever done.”
Meanwhile, the American Overseas School of Rome was named Division II team champion.
“It feels, wow, an ecstasy!” said coach Karina Cortez, who was nearly in tears after the announcement was made.
Most members of the Falcons are not American and come from countries where cheerleading isn’t popular.
“We weren’t expecting to win, it really was a shock and we’re so happy,” said junior Reiley Lester, one of the team’s captains. “We have a lot of natural talent, a lot of athletes, but I think when it comes down to it, we have a bond together and we work really hard.”
In Division III, AFNORTH finished first.
Nineteen teams completed in the competition: seven in Division I, five in Division II and seven in Division III.
They each had to perform roughly two-and-a-half-minute routines that combined elements of dance, tumbling, stunts and cheering.
In addition to the team competition, a game-day competition judged teams based on videos they submitted, which showed them cheering at games. Awards for various stunts and for those named to All-Tournament teams were also handed out at a ceremony Friday.
1. Wiesbaden, 2. SHAPE, 3. Stuttgart
Game-day winner: Vilseck
All-Tournament: Gabriella Rivera Cruz, Amya Gaskins, S’ence Maldonado – Vilseck; Bianca Ocampo – Kaiserslautern; Jasmine McKinley, Skylar Polite – Ramstein; Evan Cook, Reese Wilson – Wiesbaden; Abigail Worthy – Lakenheath; Isabella Segalla – Stuttgart; Aedan Rodman, Julian Newbauer – SHAPE.
1. AOSR, 2. Naples, 3. Aviano
Game-day winner: Aviano
All-Tournament: Carla Sellari, Andrija Torrey, Luca Albright – Naples; Kayla Graney, Jazzmin Spencer, Lydia Plunkett – Aviano; Ana Denicolas Felix – Vicenza; Camilla Di Bartolomei, Angelica Peruzzi, Giulia Graziano – AOSR; Mady Orlowski, Izzy Killion – Rota.
1. AFNORTH, 2. Alconbury, 3. Spangdahlem
Game-day winner: Alconbury
All-Tournament: Eden Skariah, A’zya Cowan – AFNORTH; Emelisse Rodriguez, Shanelle Johnson – Baumholder; Reagan Boyett, Kylie Leach, Lorna Lee – Alconbury; Jaz Lynch – Spangdahlem; Angeliah Barraza-Hernandez, Jessica Gruny – Sigonella.