Cries of “Red and White” and “Let’s Go Cards” echoed around the crowded gymnasium as cheerleaders leaped, flipped and cartwheeled through the air to a high-energy remix of classic pop songs. Throughout the impressive displays of strength and flexibility, the Lowell Cardinals maintained perfect coordination, from the positions of their feet to the bright smiles on all their faces.
On Dec. 8, cheer teams from all around the city gathered to compete at Abraham Lincoln High School. Lowell’s cheer team placed second in the Stunt and Dance divisions at the CIF SF Cheer Championships, with scores of 82.33 and 91.33, respectively. The Balboa Buccaneers placed first in all three Stunt, Cheer and Dance divisions with scores of 84.00, 94.67, and 94.67, respectively, beating Lowell by a mere 1.67 points in the Stunt division and 3.34 points in the Dance division. The Lincoln Mustangs placed third in Stunt and Dance, and the Galileo Lions placed third in Cheer. The event was the Cardinals’ first competition of their season.
Senior co-captain Annie Bystrom, who is positioned as a “back,” originally didn’t expect the Cardinals to place second. She considers their win extraordinary in the sense that, according to Bystrom, the Cardinals “basically have a whole new team.” The team has new coaches and 15 new members joining four returning cheerleaders, says junior back spotter Gigi Huang. According to Lashanae Love, one of the coaches, the Cardinals had been practicing for several months. However, the team had started learning their routines relatively late, only about two weeks prior to the Academic Athletic Association Championship, and didn’t complete the dance routine until two days before the competition, says Huang. Two of the team’s strongest “bases,” who hold fellow cheerleaders up during stunts, were also injured and unable to compete, and freshman Alice Eng performed on a sprained ankle.
In light of the setbacks and obstacles they faced, the Cardinals consider second place to be a good start to the beginning of their competition season. Bystrom attributes the team’s success to their ability to concentrate and not dwell on mistakes. “The first one [routine], some small little tweaks went wrong, [but] I think my team really powered through and got the second routine much, much better,” she said. She also believes that there is room for improvement. “I feel like since we were second, if we had maybe pushed ourselves a little farther, we could’ve placed first, but we’re really happy with it and I think it’s amazing,” Bystrom said.
The Cardinals will compete in the United Spirit Association Deer Valley Regional on Jan. 12, 2019, in Antioch, California.