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The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

CHEER PREVIEW: Lady Lancers compete in CIF for the first time in history

Asaph Li
Sophomore Charlise Tolentino (center) lifts her left leg up as part of the pyramid that her teammates are working on during the Lady Lancers’ period six practice behind the Sunny Hills PE locker rooms on Tuesday, Jan. 9. The team will compete in its first competition on Saturday, Jan. 13, at Agoura High School.

Coaches: Patrice France (head coach), Jessica Bias (assistant coach), Monet Favreau (assistant coach)

Top Returning Cheerleaders: London Channel (12), Elena Hernandez (12), Mackenzy Jung (11), Silvia Santos (12), Chloe Sepulveda (12), Ivye Villalba (12)

Top Newcomers: Natalia Alvarez (11), Bianca Baciu (11), Jasmine Diaz (10), Emily Kim (10), Abigail Taroreh (11), Charlise Tolentino (10), Jisu Yoo (11)

Last Season: In her first year, France said she opted to keep the cheer team out of all competitions to keep its efforts on routines for school assemblies and sports games. 

“Last year, we really just tried to focus on what we did at school and our skills,” she said. 

Outlook: For the first time in the team’s history, cheer will participate in CIF while also keeping its attention on the non-CIF January regional competition with the United Spirit Association — its first competition in a decade. The Lady Lancers hope to reach nationals held on Friday, Feb. 16, in Anaheim, where they will compete against schools from areas including Northern California, Utah and Nevada. 

“I’m excited for us to start competing again,” France said. “I knew after I took over the program that I was going to make our team competitive.” 

The head coach said the squad’s main focus this season is tackling regionals and getting into nationals. 

“Even though we’re competing in CIF this year, I actually feel like our focus is the non-CIF competition with just the United Spirit Association,” she said. “We’re really just dipping our toes into CIF to feel out the competition.”

Competitive cheer officially became recognized as a sport in CIF in the 2017-2018 school year when former Gov. Jerry Brown signed an Assembly Bill into law on Oct. 7, 2015. 

The cheer squad performs at the football game against the Woodbridge Warriors on Thursday, Aug. 31, at Buena Park High School Stadium. (Image used with permission from Mackenzy Jung)

“The girls brought up wanting to do CIF last school year, and I thought, ‘Well, we were already planning to compete in regional this year, so why not do CIF too,’” France said. “After that, we talked to [athletic director Paul Jones] and the process was simple, just filling out a few Google Documents.”

However, Jung, the squad’s captain this season, said the transition into a competitive team feels daunting. 

“I feel a little nervous because I haven’t competed in a long time, and it’ll be my first time with Sunny Hills,” said flyer Jung, who previously competed at Orange County All-Stars in Anaheim two years ago with her childhood friend and Sunny Hills Class of 2022 graduate Natalie Lira. 

Flyer Diaz said she’s looking forward to this change in the cheer program. 

“I feel like it’s going to be really fun to be able to compete with the girls, and it’s going to take lots of hard work,” she said. “We can only do our best.”

The team spent its last season preparing to compete, France said. 

For example, last summer the girls worked on foundations and basic stunts, practicing extensions and skills such as twisting single legs. 

“We roll out the mat during practices to try to get that full experience of competing like we’re on stage,” Jung said. “I think overall as a team, communication and team etiquette is also a key element we’ve been working on.”

The Lady Lancers stand firm on their pedestals during an away football game against the Brea Olinda Wildcats on Friday, Sept. 8. (Image used with permission from Mackenzy Jung)

Aside from team improvements, she said she holds a few individual goals for herself as a captain. 

“I want to work on encouraging my teammates as captain and holding myself accountable,” the junior said. “I think it’s important to not stay too comfortable and always be ready for anything.” 

France said she believes the squad will have a better grasp of its weaknesses once it begins competing. 

“Practice is different from competitions, and the girls never competed before as a team, so we’ll kind of see when we get there what we need to focus on for nationals,” the head coach said. 

With no set Freeway League, squads can sign up to be in their preferred division in competitions, France said. 

In the first regional event on Saturday, Jan. 13, at Agoura High School, the team will compete in the cheer non-tumbling division novice and will face nine high schools: Canyon in Anaheim, Dos Pueblos in Goleta, Grand Terrace in Grand Terrace, San Gorgonio in San Bernardino, San Jacinto in San Jacinto, Robert F. Kennedy in Los Angeles, Hoover in Glendale and Paloma Valley in Menifee.  

The Lady Lancers are scheduled to appear on stage at 1:53 p.m., France said.

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Christine Yoo
Christine Yoo, Sports Editor
Stepping into her first year on The Accolade staff, junior Christine Yoo looks forward to diving deeper into her responsibilities as the co-sports editor. She hopes to sharpen her journalistic skills and broaden her knowledge of the niche aspects of sports writing. When not typing out stories, Yoo can be seen involving herself in different clubs and volunteer organizations. In her free time, she enjoys listening to true crime, finding new music and going out with her friends.
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