Can River girls move up?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 18, 2005

In Southeastern District cheerleading, Suffolk tends to get lost in the shuffle. Since Nansemond River and Lakeland opened in 1991, no school from the city had made it to Eastern Region competition (to do so, a team must finish in the top four in districts).

Last year, however, the River girls almost got a place in history, roaring to sixth in local competition, the school’s highest-ever finish. When the next round comes around in October at Oscar Smith High School, new coach Vickie Stewart and her girls are determined to take things to the next level.

&uot;Absolutely,&uot; Stewart said when asked if she was pleased with her team’s finish last season. &uot;We had a remarkable routine, and the girls hit everything.&uot;

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Now it’s on to something new.

&uot;Tumbling, tumbling, tumbling,&uot; she said of her team’s new technique for 2005-06. &uot;We’ve encouraged the girls to go to tumbling classes. There’s a certain amount of dance, a certain amount of stunts, and a certain amount of tumbling. We’ve got to get everything in equal amounts.&uot;

It’s one of few changes from last year, said senior Leah Fontenot.

&uot;We’re trying to keep most of the same things,&uot; she said, &uot;but there’s some things we’ve had to revise. We haven’t forgotten what almost got us there, but we didn’t have enough complicated stunts and power jumps (jumping up and touching the feet to outstretched arms).&uot;

New captain Jessica Maddox and her co-captains Jennifer Stone and Ashley Unmussig will try to lead the team to victory.

&uot;I encourage the girls to do their best,&uot; Maddox said. &uot;I want them to be comfortable with their teammates and comfortable with their stunts.&uot;