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The City Journals

Herriman cheer overcomes difficulties with win at state

Mar 09, 2018 12:02PM ● By Greg James

The 2017–18 Herriman Mustangs cheer team competed at nationals Feb. 20–25 in Anaheim, California. (Herriman Cheer)

The parents, fans and coaches of Herriman High School athletics have experienced the enthusiasm cheerleaders have exhibited this season. Despite injuries and difficult circumstances, the team captured a state championship and participated in a national tournament.

“These girls participate in parades. They do clinics for younger kids. They are an important part of our community,” Herriman cheer coach Sarah Oborn said. “This group of girls has overcome quite a bit this year.”

As the 2017–2018 cheer team was preparing for this school year one of its team members Taylor Cutler, or “Judy,” as she is affectionately known, was involved in a car accident and suffered a severe spinal injury. This, among other team injuries, affected the season.

“It is hard for cheerleaders to adjust to making changes,” Oborn said. “We had to start over and reorganize many times. It is hard on kids to see other kids suffer. It takes a bubbly personality, and it takes dedication. It is important to be a team player. Adding stunts can make it hard to be patient. They (cheer team members) also need to be vibrant leaders at the school.”

As a way to deal with its tragedies, the Mustangs held a “Jump for Judy” fundraiser and skills practice in July. They raised more than $1,200 to help with hospital bills.

Despite all the difficulties during the season, the team competed at the Roy High School Cheer Invitational and won first place in their halftime show routine. At region, the Mustangs took first place in both of their routines, show cheer and sideline timeout.

On Jan. 27, the Mustangs took first place at the Utah State Cheerleading Competition in the sideline timeout routine and second in their show cheer routines.

They are scheduled to participate at nationals in Anaheim, California, Feb. 20–25 (after press deadline.)

In cheerleading competitions, each routine has rules of the category. Show cheer routines can include tumbling and stunts and can have a musical element. The sideline timeout routine is restricted to no tumbling or stunts and usually includes a school-themed cheer and crowd involvement. These routines are designed to be upbeat and excite the crowd.

“There is a lot I could say about this group of girls,” Oborn said. “They are really great teamwork players, and I have enjoyed working with them. They are willing to work hard for each other.”

This is Oborn’s first season as Herriman head coach. She has coached privately for several years.

“Utah is a competitive cheerleading state,” she said. “I think it is important for kids to start learning early. Not to say you could not ever make it, but having experience certainly helps.” 

The Mustang team has 35 girls. They compete in the large school category. 

The team’s six captains include Elizabeth Sainsbury, Kalia Woods, Joree Dixon, Abigail Oborn, Olivia Christensen and Hannah Wilkey.

“Our tryouts are coming up, and we are really hoping to keep progressing,” Oborn said. “We are hoping that next year we can have some boys on the team. I think some (boys) are worried about the stigma of being a cheerleader. We need them for their strength, loud voices, and boys are awesome tumblers.”

Tryouts for next year are scheduled for March 28–31.