Low turnout bumps cheering from Games
Cheerleading tried to get off its feet at this year's Sunflower State Games, but low turnout meant the sport wouldn't make its start at the event this year.
Spirit of Kansas coach Lori Tochtrop said that a late start and other factors hurt the sports chances this year.
"The timing of year is tough," Tochtrop said. "It's hard for a bunch of kids."
Camps and other competitions occur during the summer, but Tochtrop hopes the sport will be on the Games' slate. Only seven teams entered the field, and rather than cancel the competition, it became the Spirit of Kansas Cheerleading Invitational on July 21 at Dance City in Lawrence.
Tonganoxie High School cheerleader Samantha Hassinger competed for the Spirit of Kansas squad, as did Tonganoxie yell leader Jake Dornback. Hassinger took first in the individual best jumper and was supposed to compete for individual best cheerleader, but withdrew at the last minute after a bout of the nerves.
"I regret not trying out for it," Hassinger said. "If I get the chance again, I'll try out for it."
Overall, the team took second in team competition, which was based on competition against a score sheet. Hassinger said the team did well considering inexperience.
"I think we did pretty good," she said. "We're starting out with new people."
One of the new additions is Dornback, who joined the team in early July. Dornback is fairly new to cheering as well, joining the Tonganoxie squad in the spring. He said the competition didn't have as many participants as the NCA camp in Emporia earlier this summer, but the atmosphere was still strong.
"We performed as if it were a big competition," Dornback said.
The event consisted of competitions in individual best jumper in pee-wee and high school divisions, individual best tumbler in high school, individual best cheerleader in the same category, and team competitions at all levels.
Tochtrop looks for the competition to be part of the Sunflower State Games, but said this year's competition provided good experience.
"The main focus is to go out in front of a good judging atmosphere and have critiques," Tochtrop said.