02/24/04 — E. Wayne cheerleaders claim NCCCA title

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E. Wayne cheerleaders claim NCCCA title

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 24, 2004 1:56 PM

Karen Camp expected the public address announcer to declare Davie County the 2004 N.C. state cheerleading champion in the Super Large division early Saturday afternoon in Concord.

In fact Camp, the Eastern Wayne coach, was tickled to death to finish second behind one of the state's premier cheerleading programs. Thrilled with her team's performance, Camp stuffed the final score sheets into her bag and headed toward the bus.

Eastern Wayne Cheerleaders

News-Argus/Rudy Coggins

The Eastern Wayne cheerleading squad emerged the state champion in the Super Large division of the N.C. State Cheerleading Championships contested Saturday in Concord. The Warriors edged Davie County by five-hundredths of a point. Members of the team are, left to right, front row: ToniAnn Gambella, captain Blair Deans and Kimberly Kennedy. Second row, l to r: Tina Guijarro, Caitlin Emerson, Reecie Guijarro, Naomi Villanueva, Helen Baddour and Heather Garren. Third row, l to r: Allison Bronner, Briana Johnson, Amber Wallace, Meagan Jackson, Katelyn Swayne, Aries Brinson and Caitlin McCall. Fourth row, l to r: Elisa Garcia, Laura Mitchell, Becky Kiefer, Lynn Sasser, Sarah Walker, Tiffany Jackson and Shayla Gibson. Not pictured is head coach Karen Camp.

While Camp drove back to the hotel, her daughter Erin began browsing the sheets. Every once in a while, Erin let out a short grunt as she read the judges' comments and looked at the scores.

But something caught Erin's eye when she compared the Davie County and Eastern Wayne results. The final tally had Eastern Wayne winning the meet by a microscopic five-thousandth of a point.

"Mom, we won," Erin said.

Camp gave her daughter a puzzled look. She took the pages and viewed the scores. Camp couldn't believe what she saw.

Was it true?

Had Eastern Wayne dethroned Davie County from its usual perch?

"The announcer made an error when he gave the results," Camp said.

Camp immediately phoned N.C. Cheerleading Coaches Association president Beverly Burnette from her hotel room and left a message. She waited by the phone for four agonizing hours, but never received a return call.

Camp left the hotel with half the cheerleading squad and headed across the street to have dinner at a restaurant. Almost an hour later, Burnette reached Camp on her cell phone.

"Where are you?" Burnette asked.

Camp told her and Burnette said she'd be there in a few minutes. A little after 11 p.m., Burnette informed Camp and the remaining Warriors that they had -- indeed -- won the state championship.

Shrieks of joy followed Burnette's announcement and the cheerleaders scrambled for their cell phones. Not long after midnight, the rest of the team had received the startling, but good news.

"It was wild," a grinning Camp said.

Camp had never taken Eastern Wayne to the championship meet because she always had more than 20 members on her squad. Previous entry rules stated that a team that large couldn't compete.

However, the NCCCA opted to add a Super Large division this season which allowed teams with more than 21 members to participate. Davie County fell into this category along with the Warriors and five other schools.

Squads also competed in Independent; Class 1-A, 2-A, 3-A and 4-A; and Co-Ed divisions. The teams' routines were limited to two and a half minutes with music exceeding no more than 1 minute, 15 seconds. The routines could not begin with a stunt.

A panel of four out-of-state judges graded teams on a 10-point scale. They watched for motions, dance, tumbling, stunts, jumps, transition/formations, degree of difficulty, timing, choreography and showmanship. Also watching the routines were three technical judges, located at certain points on the floor.

Eastern Wayne's lone deduction -- five-hundredths of a point -- came from a slight bobble on one of its stunts.

"Near flawless," Camp said. "With all honesty, it's the best routine they have ever done."

Camp still can't believe her team has emerged the state champion.

"If they had announced it there that we'd won, I don't think we would have believed it," Camp said. "I'm not sure how the error occurred. Davie County went home thinking they were state champs. I told Beverly that I was sorry 'you have to make that call.' "

Eastern Wayne began preparation for the day-long NCCCA event in August. The Warriors spent more than two hours a day practicing, and sometimes had practice at 6 a.m.

Camp admitted this wasn't the most-talented squad she's ever coached.

"But it's the most wonderful team I've ever been around," she said. "They worked well together and got along well together. They're truly the best team I've ever had.

"Davie County has won this competition many times and it was the first time they had been in this division. I'm thrilled we beat someone like Davie County, which has a strong program like they do."

Burnette will travel to Goldsboro and present the state championship trophy at the next Eastern Wayne awards banquet.