Walpole Cheerleaders Qualify for Nationals

After two years without competition, the team comes back better than ever

Photo%2F+Maggie+Mahoney

Photo/ Maggie Mahoney

Maggie Mahoney, Assistant Sports Editor

When the fall sports season started, Walpole’s cheerleaders were eager to return to competition after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19. Despite their extended time off, Senior captains, Cara King, Brynn Norton and Alexis Gay, returned to lead a team better than ever before. Competitions began late this year, but on Nov. 2, the team started their season off strong by claiming first place in their division at the Bay State Conference competition. 

The team carried their momentum into the South Regional competition on Nov. 14, where they placed fifth in Division 2 stealing the last bid to the state finals with a score of 80.8. This would mark the first time since 2017 that the team would qualify for the state competition, but even greater than that the Timberwolves surpassed the nationals qualifying score of 80, proving they had a real chance to qualify from states.

“Moving on to states was so exciting. It was definitely a turning point in our season,” Junior flyer Abigail Cunningham said. “It gave us the confidence we needed to realize what we are capable of as a team. We worked hard and it paid off. It was a good reminder that I think we all needed.”

At Worcester State University on Nov. 21, nine members of the team performed their routine to a Walpole remix of Industry Baby, by Lil Nas X for the MSAA judges. 

Improving on their regional score, Walpole earned their best score of the season, 83.4, also punching their ticket to the national competition in February 2022, hosted in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. In addition, the team placed ninth in the competitive Division 2, marking the first time in 9 years that the team has scored high enough to qualify for nationals. Senior captain Cara King credits their success this year with their hard work every day in practice.

Junior flyer Emily Botelho performs stunt during the team’s performance on Nov. 21.

“During practice, we were always trying new stunts or tumbling passes as a way to improve our difficulty to get higher scores. We would spend our practices doing the more difficult stunts until we hit them, and then we would keep practicing until we couldn’t do them wrong,” King said. “We had our best performance at states because the week before the competition we were hitting everything at practice so we all had confidence that we would get through our routine.”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions on out-of-state travel and the timing of the national competition the cheer team is unable to compete at nationals. While the inability to move forward is disappointing for the team, they remain optimistic about their accomplishments this season. 

“We overcame so much this season and we really left it all on the mat,” Cunningham said.