GRAND RAPIDS – It was a long road for Pontiac Notre Dame Prep to get to the top of the cheer mountain. There wasn’t any way the Irish were going to give up their spot easily.
Notre Dame earned its first repeat state championship in cheer on Saturday, claiming the Division 3 state title at the DeltaPlex with a score of 773.68, topping the field by just under six points.
“This was for our great collection of fans and alumni that have supported us every step of the way. Our girls wanted to win again for all those girls that couldn’t get the opportunity to win when they competed,” Irish coach Beth Campbell said. “This was a win for our great community and I am so proud of our girls.”
The Irish had missed out on the state finals until 2010 when they placed eighth, but then improved slowly, finishing runner-up in 2013 in Campbell’s first year with the team.
Then, in 2014, the team broke through and claimed the title. This time around, nobody was doubting the Irish and they lived up to their title of defending champs.
“Any time you are the defending state champ there is a target on your back,” Campbell said. “I feel like defending a state championship was 25 times harder than earning one. It was a real challenge, but my girls decided a long time ago that they were going to defend it.”
The Irish led wire-to-wire on Saturday, posting a 233.50 in round one, the top score of any team. Richmond was next in line with a 232.10 while Comstock Park was third with 231.90.
That trend continued in the second round, as the Irish posted a 226.48, best of any team by nearly two points. After two rounds, Notre Dame was at 459.98, leading second-place Richmond, which had 456.60, third-place Comstock Park, which had 456.10.
“This team has been consistent all year long,” Campbell said. “Our team was so focused on what the end goal was and they just took it one step at a time and one round at a time. That proved to be what led us to success.”
In their final performance, the Irish scored a 313.70, again the best score of any team.
“I told them we were as prepared as we could be, so let’s go out there and put on a show,” Campbell said of the third round. “It wasn’t about winning it was about it being the last time taking the floor as a team and it was time to party.”
Following the announcement, the Irish did party as the team of 29 competitors celebrated their championship. This year’s team featured seven seniors, meaning the back-to-back champs have plenty coming back in 2016 as they pursue a third consecutive title.
“Our seniors have trained up the juniors all season and now they are ready to be the seniors,” Campbell said of looking ahead to next season. “They are already talking about ‘strive for three,’ so they are already making plans for next year.”
Drew Ellis – MIPrepZone.com – March 7, 2015