The 2020 IMS junior high cheer team

The 2020 IMS junior high cheer team: Alexa Ramirez Rodriguez, Beth Preston, Licia Tinsley, Morgan Slater, Natalia Martin, Jossie Ess, Emily Smith, Gemma Moro, Victoria Bourgeois, Lauren Matz, Lily Verhoff, Madison Rice, Jordan McCall, Kate Radonich and Rachel Brooks.

In early February, Ingleside Middle School competed in the U.S.A. AZ Open Cheer Competition and took home first place in the Junior High Intermediate Division.

“When they called out our name as the winning team, I was shocked. I knew it was going to be a close call, but I was happy with whatever place because I knew our girls left everything on the mat,” said Lauren Ohanesian, Ingleside teacher and cheer coach. “When they called us we all were just so happy and excited. Everyone was cheering and screaming. All of our fans were jumping up and down. It was a great experience.”

The team tirelessly rehearsed and prepared for the competition. Coach Ohanesian said practices were intense, but she pushed the team in hopes of preparing them for their futures in high school cheer.

“Competition practices can be exhausting, as they often consist of full-outs of the routine over and over again. However, they’ve proven to be very helpful, as we get practice in real time, exactly how the routine is on the competition floor,” said 8th grader Lauren Matz.

According to Coach Ohanesian, the routine was both new and challenging for this year’s team. There was a small problem with the music during Ingleside’s time slot, but the girls remained professional while holding their stunt and patiently waited for the music to come back on – which proved to be the right move.

“I think our competition routine was definitely on the tougher side, but we fought through and made first place,” said 7th grader Rachel Brooks.

“The competition was a great experience. All the hard work we had put in was shown in our routine. In my opinion, the routine pushed us to limits we didn’t know we could conquer until we tried. Overall, cheer is one of the best things that has happened to me,” said 8th grader Morgan Slater.

The main goal of the IMS cheer team is to support and motivate other sports, but they continue to strive for an excellent and successful competition season.

Ohanesian hopes to coach two separate cheer teams next season – one that only focuses on supporting IMS sports and one that competes. The first team would give more girls and boys the opportunity to cheer without having to compete.

“Competing is scary, but exhilarating. I experience extra bursts of energy out there and feel strong motivation to make my school, my parents, my team and my coach happy,” Matz said.

Coach Ohanesian hopes to continue challenging the team and encouraging them to go beyond their limits.