More than any other program in the county and state, the consistently excellent Chesapeake cheerleading team has forced the competition to raise their level if they want any chance to compete against the Cougars.
The rest of the county is inching closer to Chesapeake, but they’re not there yet.
In one of the most stacked Anne Arundel fields in recent memory and perhaps ever, the Cougars outperformed everyone to win their 18th county championship at Severna Park High School on October 23.
Chesapeake’s routine earned a score of 128.1 out of 130, the highest score by any team in the state this season. The Cougars, whose 18 titles began with the fall county championship in 2008, have won three straight fall county championships and six straight county championships including winter seasons dating back to the 2016-2017 winter season.
Head coach Lisa Elliott said this year’s field made the Cougars sweat.
“I’m telling you, this one was scary. There was so much talent in this room tonight,” Elliott said. “As a coaching staff we literally had no idea how this one was going to go. We were convinced that we would probably be second or third.”
Second and third came to Arundel (125.85) and South River (123.95) respectively, while Glen Burnie (122.7) and Northeast (120.7) took fourth and fifth.
With a sold-out crowd of over 1,500 in attendance for one of the county’s most electric (yet somehow still under-the-radar and underappreciated) annual events, Chesapeake did what it has done so many times: executed stunts, tumbles and dance sequences with precision, athleticism, high energy and flare throughout a meticulously choreographed routine, earning top marks from the panel of judges who scanned all the teams’ routines in search of skill demonstration and miscues.
Chesapeake’s team of Amber Brisbane, Ashley Brewis, Avianna Negron, Carlie Wilkins, Emma McNamara, Faith Todd, Haley Steele, Hayley Dales, Jasmin Sanabria, Jessica Dixon, Julia Nicoli, Kelli Hawkins, Kennedy McNulty, Mackenzie Porter, Maddie Gray, Makayla Frommelt, Morgan King, Rayven Trexler, Savannah Davis and Skylar Storm was thrilled to collect the championship plaque and individual medals.
Elliott, who coaches the Cougars with Joe Vecchioni, Nicki Abey and Allisyn Freburger, said the team has grown since a poor performance in their first invitational early this season.
“It’s different kids every year, and we started off the season rough. We went to Eastern Tech, and it was — it was just bad,” said Elliott. “It was a rough day for us, dropping stunts, and we just weren’t a team. And that’s the key I’d have to say more than anything. We work hard at that. From day one: You’ve got to be a team. You’ve got to support each other, you have to be there for each other, especially in this kind of sport. So I think that was lacking a few weeks ago. But that loss, sometimes that’s what you need. It worked for us.”
Gray, one of three captains along with Storm and Dixon, said the Cougars hold themselves to incredibly high standards in practice. “Perfect” was the word they used to describe their goals each day in training.
“We’ll do a run through, and if something is not exactly perfect, we will stop immediately and start it back over,” Gray said. “Full energy, all out, every time. If everyone’s not bringing the energy or on the right count, we start over.”
Porter and Frommelt were separately named to the All-County team for the season. The Chesapeake JV team also performed at counties on October 23, taking second to South River. Northeast’s JV girls took fourth.
Kent Island’s cheerleading program, which has a longstanding relationship with the Chesapeake program and competes against the Cougars in powder-puff football every year, also participated in the meet as a special invitee. The Buccaneers earned a score of 124.0.
Storm, a senior who has never lost a county championship in three years on varsity, said the Cougars earned their way to the top by overcoming early obstacles.
“I feel like definitely at practice we became a family,” Storm said. “Some practices were rough, but we came together and pushed through everything and just made everything perfect.”
Elliott still has to ready her program for the state championship meet on November 9. The Cougars achieving their highest score of the year at this stage in the season is a good sign.
“That score, oh my gosh, I’m so happy right now,” said Elliott. “It’s working right at the right time.”