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Cheer: Huskies cheer places third at state

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JONATHAN SANCHEZ - The North Marion cheer teams 2016 season culminated in a trip to the state championships at Portland Memorial Coliseum on Saturday. The Huskies went on to place third behind Klamath Union and South Umpqua.A season’s worth of build up, excitement, suspense and anxiety came to a close in just a few minutes on Saturday at the 2016 OSAA State Cheer Championships.

At the forefront of the event was the North Marion cheer team, which put together a flawless performance for the judges in a third place effort that left the team feeling proud but hungry for more next season.

“The team put out their best performance of the year on Saturday,” head coach Ashley Murray said. “We spent a lot of practice time perfecting the routine and really getting confident, and it showed on the mats.”

JONATHAN SANCHEZ - The North Marion cheer teams 2016 season culminated in a trip to the state championships at Portland Memorial Coliseum on Saturday. The Huskies went on to place third behind Klamath Union and South Umpqua.North Marion scored 153.20 points to edge out Baker (153.20) for third place. The Huskies fell well behind South Umpqua (153.20) and Klamath Union (174.10), which won the 4A state championship for the third consecutive year.

Murray credits the team for not just hitting all their marks, but really selling the performance to the judges.

“You have to entertain them and leave them wishing your routine wasn’t over because they enjoyed it so much, and the girls did an excellent job of doing that on Saturday,” Murray said.

The Huskies came into the event having placed second at the state competition last year and hoping to reclaim the top spot after claiming the 4A championship for six years straight from 2007-12.

North Marion’s practice time on the mat showed at Saturday’s competition, with judges ranking the team’s routine as second-best behind state champion Klamath Union.

But the Huskies graduated a lot of talented tumblers last year and struggled to replace that aspect of their routine for the 2016 season.

“This was a very challenging aspect for the team because we had several girls who were close to gaining tumbling skills that would help us out, but tumbling isn't something you can just snap your fingers and achieve,” Murray said.

As a result, the Huskies took a hit in the tumbling, placing near the middle of the pack in fifth place. But Murray credits the team for pushing to get stronger and better every day this season and expects to see that aspect of the team turn into a strength for the coming season.

JONATHAN SANCHEZ - The North Marion cheer teams 2016 season culminated in a trip to the state championships at Portland Memorial Coliseum on Saturday. The Huskies went on to place third behind Klamath Union and South Umpqua.“I’m very proud of them for their efforts,” Murray said. “It makes me excited for the next year and being able to continue to improve and get those skills out in front of an audience.”

The road to the state championship began long before the season started in early January. Many of the athletes on the team have been practicing and training for years, but showed vast improvement from the season-opening competition six weeks ago to the state championships last weekend.

“Compared to the beginning of the season, the team that performed on Saturday was almost a completely different team,” Murray said. “The level of skills performed increased each week as did their confidence and cohesiveness as a team.”

By the end of the season, the Huskies had shaken off the nervous energy from the first performance and were able to act less as a group of individuals and more like the kind of cohesive, singular-moving group that is needed to challenge for a state title, Murray said.

“Everyone was pulling for each other and really encouraging each other along instead of focusing on themselves,” she said. “It has been great to see these girls bond together as a cheer family and become each other’s support systems.”

Of course, with how well the team did on Saturday, the Huskies are hardly satisfied with coming home with a third place trophy. North Marion wants to return to the upper levels of state champion status. Although Murray said that Klamath Union and South Umpqua earned every part of their placement, the results left the Huskies that much more motivated to get back on the mat to knock Klamath Union off their perch in 2017.

“The teams that beat us had harder/higher scoring skills than we did and there’s not a lot we could do about that,” Murray said. “Nobody on the team, coaches included, likes to lose, but we can all appreciate that Klamath Union and South Umpqua put on outstanding performances with amazing skill and do deserve to be the top two teams in our category.”

In the end, Murray is satisfied to end the season with the team’s best performance left on the mat in Portland.

“I’d say we ended on a high note,” she said. “I’m already looking forward to what we can do next year.”

Phil Hawkins covers sports and the city of Gervais. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-765-1194.

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JONATHAN SANCHEZ - The North Marion cheer teams 2016 season culminated in a trip to the state championships at Portland Memorial Coliseum on Saturday. The Huskies went on to place third behind Klamath Union and South Umpqua.

2016 OSAA State Cheer Championships

Feb. 13 at Portland Memorial Coliseum

4A Small Schools

1. Klamath Union - 174.10

2. South Umpqua - 161.30

3. North Marion - 153.20

4. Baker - 151.40

5. Scappoose - 141.90

6. Siuslaw - 138.10

7. Junction City - 133.40

8. Sisters - 132.00

9. Molalla - 103.50