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Lakers, Pacers finish among Oregon's best at state championships

REVIEW PHOTOS: J. BRIAN MONIHAN - Lakeridge High took fourth in the 6A Small Division at the 2016 Oregon State Cheerleading Championships. From left: Kallan Wehrmeister, Alexa Harris, Peyton Miller, Katie Hornecker, Caitlyn Gitelson, Emy Morton, Wesley Wells, Nykki Olejniczak.

REVIEW PHOTOS: J. BRIAN MONIHAN - LOHS cheer team member Jada Hillman flies through the air. Athletes danced, leaped and tumbled. Arranged themselves into human pyramids and tossed each other high into the air. And when the 2016 Oregon State Cheerleading Championships concluded on Saturday, teams from both Lakeridge and Lake Oswego high schools stood among the best.

Laker cheerleaders walked away with third place and the Pacers fourth in the 6A Small Division at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland, where Newberg High triumphed. Wilson High pocketed second place, just .20 points ahead of LOHS.

LOHS co-captain Darby Buhlmann says the team had hoped to make the top five.

“We were just trying to have a fun time, trying to do our personal best. So getting third, we were shocked,” says Buhlmann, a 17-year-old senior.

Peyton Miller, co-captain of the Lakeridge team, says she has never felt so proud of her group.

“We hit a near-perfect routine,” says Peyton, a 16-year-old junior. “I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

The event drew teams from across the state for an athletic competition that showed in often dramatic ways just how far cheerleading has come from the days of chanting rhymes and singing fight songs. The stunts may not have actually defied death, but there were certainly falls and injuries. Beautifully executed tosses, catches, flips and feats of balance also were thrown in the mix.

REVIEW PHOTOS: J. BRIAN MONIHAN - Pacer girls show their spirit. From left: Wesley Wells, Alexa Harris (just behind her), Candice Olsen, Lexi Johnson, Nykki Olejniczak and Peyton Miller.“The greatest moment in the competition was after we hit the ending pyramid. I could hear my coach screaming out of excitement,” Peyton says. “I knew my team gave 110 percent and left everything we had on the mat.”

Earning top honors this year: Aloha (6A Large Group), Newberg (6A Small Group), Thurston (Coed Large Group), David Douglas (Coed Small Group), South Albany (5A Small Group), Sweet Home (4A Large Group), Klamath Union (4A Small Group) and Delphian (3A/2A/1A).

“My team performed so, so well,” says Wesley Wells, Pacers co-captain and a 17-year-old senior. “Coming into this year, we only had three varsity returners. We’re a very young team, but watching our state performance, you’d never know. Place-wise, we didn’t get our ideal result, but that can all be pretty subjective and we performed spectacularly, so I am pleased. And fourth place is still pretty dang awesome.”

REVIEW PHOTOS: J. BRIAN MONIHAN - The Lakers demonstrated excellent athleticism and sportsmanship during the competition, says head coach Terrie Sheik.LOHS cheer coach Terrie Sheik says she is proud of not just the trophy, but also how team members comported themselves at the competition.

“It was a great day; it was a really great day,” Sheik says, “and I couldn’t be more proud. Every time I turned around, someone was saying how nice they were and how kind they were, and it really filled my heart.”

Lakeridge cheer coach Christine Cooper says she’s proud of her team, too.

“Every year, our goal is to have our best performance of the season and to peak at state,” Cooper says. “This year, our young team not only had their best performance, but it was one of the best performances in my 15 years of coaching at Lakeridge. We are proud of how the routine looked and honored to place fourth in state. We look forward to competing at USA Nationals next month.”

For all of the teams, the state championships marked the end of a long, competitive cheer season that started even before the first football game kicked off in the fall.

“I’m very proud of our team and everything we’ve been able to accomplish this year,” says Hannah Johns, a 17-year-old LOHS senior and co-captain of the Lakers team. “And I’m glad that everyone is so happy with everything we’ve done this season.”

Gary M. Stein contributed to this story. Contact Jillian Daley at 503-636-1281 ext. 109 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..