Junior cheer team takes first place at regionals


Lexi Licari

In spirit. Junior Clara Gamber along with seniors Jordan Fender and Bella Durso practice for regionals at a local basketball game held in the school gym.

Hailey Dent, sports editor

The USA National event took place February 25 through February 27. The JV Cheer team qualified for USA nationals this Fall with a first place finish at a USA regional event in November In Arizona. JV won first place again at the regional UCA event in January.
USA is a Spirit Competition company that hosts regional and national competitions and camps for high school and college dance and cheer teams. Schools attend from all over the western United States.
The Cactus Shadows Varsity Cheer team is 12 time AIA state champions and are 2020 AIA All Girl Show Cheer State Champions. They are also 2 time USA national champions. Breanna Canto is the Varsity Cheer head coach. The head JV Cheer Coach is Sara Thompson. Assistant Coaches are Hannah Dopp, Jessica Gray, and Bailee Walker.
“They helped to push us and support us the best that they could and encouraged us to do better and push through the hard times,” said Lindsey Stevenson, a sophomore on the varsity pom team.
Cactus Shadows spirit line also has a dance team. The Varsity Pom team won AIA state in 2017-2018-2019 and won a national title at USA Nationals in 2017. The Varsity Pom coach is Haley Vago and the JV Pom coach is Tia Raught.
“A lot of teams haven’t gone in the past couple years so everyone was on their A game. So just trying to build confidence and encourage the girls that their hard work is paying off and that they’re here for a reason. We tried to keep the nerves at bay the best we could just because both of our routines were up against 50 to 70 other groups, it was a big wide scale event,” said Haley Vago, the head varsity coach
Varsity and JV Pom attended the Universal Dance Association (UDA) nationals in January, 2022. Varsity Cheer attended Universal Cheer Association (UCA) Nationals for the first time this year. The Universal Dance and Cheer Association also hosts regional competitions and camps and hosts a national event that draws high school and college teams from all over the United States.
UCA nationals were February 11 through the 13th. UDA Nationals was February 4 through 6. Cactus Shadows Cheer and Pom teams qualified at UDA and UCA regional or virtual events this season. UDA and UCA nationals are held In Orlando Florida at Walt Disney World ESPN Wild World of Sports Complex.
Both Varsity Cheer and Pom teams qualified for State competition this year as well at the AIA State Qualifier events in January. Cheer placing first in show cheer and their stunt team placed 3rd. Cheer won a banner for crowd pleasing and lasting impression. Pom placed 3rd and won a banner for best choreography. Cheer won first out of 13 teams at state qualifiers. AIA State competition for Cheer and Pom is March 12.
“Cactus Shadows cheer used to go to Florida and this is the first time in like five years. It was like a whole different ball game there, there were teams we’ve never seen before because in state we’re one of the best teams so it was a good experience to see what was out and it’s making us excited for next season,” said Evan Johnston, a junior on the varsity cheer tea.