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MidWeek Staff

Mustangs Bring Back Cheer-worthy Prizes

Kalaheo High School cheerleading coach Shannon Callen (center, with lei) and her national champion cheerleading team and trophies, following their triumphant performance at the Orlando, Fla., competition. Photo from Shannon Callen.

Kalaheo High School cheerleading coach Shannon Callen (center, with lei) and her national champion cheerleading team and trophies, following their triumphant performance at the Orlando, Fla., competition. Photo from Shannon Callen.

By PAIGE TAKEYA

Mustang cheerleaders can hold their own against any cheer team in the country, and the squad went to the AmeriCheer & AmeriDance InterNational Championship and proved it last month in Florida, bringing back six individual and team titles.

Head coach Shannon Callen said the team was floored by the scope of the March 22-23 event in Orlando. “It’s one of those opportunities that not a lot of kids get to do, and it was very memorable for them. They went from being at Disney World to being on that big of a stage.”

The squad won first place in the Varsity Spirit Leader division, which involves elements of dance, jump and cheer (they incorporated a small Tahitian dance segment); and third place in Small Varsity Mount Traditional, a category Callen said compares to Hawaii competitions.

More significantly, the team swept the top spot in four individual categories: Serina Cervantes won Junior Individual, Kaelin Thomas took Senior Individual, Briana Andrade claimed Senior Non-Tumbling Individual, and Devin Davis won Open Individual.

“We took all of them. They did really well,” Callen said. Callen also was a top-10 finalist for Coach of the Year. She reports that the team went home with trophies, medals and championship jackets, as well as a banner that will hang in the Kalaheo gym.

The team qualified for the competition via a $5,000 grant it won last year from AmeriCheer’s Dreams Come True, Rewards for You! contest. Papa John’s Hawaii and others in the community rallied to help with the rest of the funds.

And now, the team is looking ahead again. “It’s already their goal to repeat and go back next year. It makes them feel like their dreams can be realistic,” Callen explained. “They’re setting their Hawaii state goals (now). It makes them realize that their goals are achievable, and it’s OK to dream big.”

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