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The City Journals

CCHS cheer best in nation

Jun 02, 2021 09:14AM ● By Catherine Garrett

The Corner Canyon High cheer squad won its second national title April 24, learning of their championship while watching virtually during a team getaway in St. George. (Photos courtesy Whitney Lunt)

By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]

Three years ago, the Corner Canyon High School cheer team won its first national championship in the Small Varsity Division. This year, the Chargers repeated the feat, this time in the Medium Varsity Division for the Universal Cheerleaders Association National Championship April 24. The Junior Varsity squad also had a program-best third place finish in the JV Division.

“This is the most special thing that could ever happen to a team or program,” said head coach Whitney Lunt. “There is nothing like winning at the National High School Cheerleading Championships.”

“The feeling of winning nationals was incomparable to anything else, that feeling of knowing all of our hard work paid off because we get those national champion jackets,” said senior Taylee Westra. “We were successful this season because of our hard work and determination—we never gave up on our goal no matter how hard it got.”

In this unique year, with many teams not traveling, Corner Canyon actually competed virtually for nationals, which is normally held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida. This time around, the team filmed their performances at the high school in front of alumni, family and friends and submitted videos for each round of the competition.

“We filmed for five days trying to get the perfect video. It was a grueling and intense process. I hope we never have to do it again!” Lunt said. “Having to film also dragged the process out much longer than normal. We had to wait several weeks for results and progressing through the rounds. Overall, it was a much longer and harder process than attending the championships in person.”

“This was so physically and mentally hard on all of us,” said senior Lily Baird. “It was hard to stay motivated, but it was important for us to remember that we are trained for this. Everyone bought into this team and gave it their all.”

Senior Madisyn Wankier said the love the team shares with each other was the key to winning this season. “We as a team pulled together to complete the hardest week of nationals we’ve ever had,” she said. “We also knew there was no reason to stop or hold back this year because we had lost so much. Why not use every moment we get to push for success?” 

The CCHS team spent what would have been their time away at nationals on a weekend getaway in St. George to watch the championships aired together. “This was super fun and special and even though we couldn’t travel to Florida, it helped make it more special,” Lunt said. “It was also really fun for the girls to bond and get to spend time with each other since so much has been taken away from them this season. It was the best way to spend time together and to find out that we won.”

“Even without all the cameras and glam and extra things we usually have at nationals, seeing our names pop up as the national champs made me just cry and yell and hug everyone,” Wankier said. “It was so rewarding and happy and such a good moment to have as we haven’t had that many this year. Realizing all that we completed was such a humbling experience. We have come so far and done so much for this one moment.”

The Chargers squad also placed fourth at the invite-only America’s Cup, which was also virtual this year, that aired in late April. In this competition, they went up against the top 20 teams—middle school, high school, all-girl or coed—from across the country in a unique non-classification event.

Also on the varsity team (who won their fourth state championship this year) were Lauren Adams, Avery Adamson, Lily Baird, Brooke Barney, Lizzie Boyle, Lauren Easton, Jessica Flores, Shannon Gillespie, Annabelle Harris, Zoe Kener, Emilie Mecham, Brooklynne Nelson, Ella Nelson, Bethany Rooklidge, Olivia Sharp, Madisyn Wankier, Taylee Westra, Jade Winkel, Danika Wood and Kylie Wood. 

The JV squad (who also won region and state this year) consisted of Bailey Davis, Ella Duffin, Eloise Fletcher, Kiki Haward, Addy Jones, Abbie Keys, Ellie Keys, Kimberly Lilienquist, Ashley Macievic, Paige Rees, Christine Schmidt, Kennedy Scott and Macy Watts.

Lunt was assisted on the coaching staff by Kyler Schofield, Bria Bowthorpe, Stephanie Sampson and choreographer Cameron Larsen.

“This has been our best season overall for our team and program,” Lunt said. “We are super grateful and feel so blessed to be able to do what we love and to be successful doing it. I’m excited to see what we can accomplish in the future.”