Pioneers win region cheer title

Robert NIEDZWIECKI
The Winchester Star

The Millbrook cheerleading team won its first region title in program history by taking the 4A West Region championship on Saturday at Rock Ridge High School in Ashburn.

The Pioneers won the competition with 2141/2 points in the second round, 101/2 more than the host Phoenix (204). Those two along with Liberty (third with 196 points) and James Wood (fourth with 1651/2) each advance to the Group 4A state meet that will take place at the Virginia Commonwealth University Siegel Center on Saturday.

The four state-qualifying teams were the only ones to advance to the second round. In the 14-team first round, Millbrook was first with 206 points, Liberty was second (1981/2), Rock Ridge was third (198), James Wood was fourth (1941/2), John Champe was fifth (189) and Sherando was sixth (1881/2).

Millbrook coach Dawnette Jones said her team performed much better in the second round.

“We did a better routine,” said Jones, whose team previously won Conference 21 West and Northwestern District championships. “We had a couple little mess-ups in the first round.

“I just let them know that the pressure was off because they had made it to states, so now we’re just going to go out and have fun and hit a routine you know you can do. They knew they could do better with their pyramids than they did first round, so I think that helped. And their confidence was up because they did win the first round.”

Millbrook qualified for its first state competition two years ago by placing second in the region, but last year the Pioneers took sixth at regions and failed to qualify. Jones said that was a motivating factor for the team’s 12 returners.

“They were able to lend a lot of leadership and help the freshmen coming in,” said Jones, who has eight freshmen on a roster of 23. “We do have a very talented freshman group, and they mentored them and were able to share what the experience is like to go far. They were able to light that fire for them and get them excited [about the postseason]. We set the goal at the beginning of the season to three-repeat as conference champions and win the region championship to go to states.”

Millbrook’s team includes Taylor Benoit, Simone Berdecia, Madison Bollinger, Madison Chandler, Madison Clark, Ellison Deegan, Olivia Escalante, Caitlyn Faint, Casey Hassinger, Alexandra Himelright, Kamryn Koller, Clarissa Leonard, Airryonna Lively, Josie Morrow, Alyssa Nacin, Danielle Orth, Julie Pacini, Savannah Payne, Sarah Purdy, Angela Riemer, Morgan Todd, Kaitlynn Vafadar and Rylee Warchola.

James Wood’s team includes Alexandra Anderson, Rodrigo Bernabeu Merino, Allison Bradfield, Henry Buchholz, Keilena Burch, Savannah Clarke, Grace Cooper, Toni Culp, Alyssa Dodd, Morgan Funkhouser, Emma Hammond, Brianna Harper, Meghan Horner, Jamie Marcy, Julia Marcy, Janis Martin, Myra Martin, Emily McKee, Savannah McKee, Desiree Richards, Danielle Ritter, Alexsandra Smith, Brooke Stautzenbach and Lauren Taylor.

At the state competition, James Wood will compete at 12:10 p.m. and Millbrook will compete at 1:40 p.m. The top four out of the eight competing teams will advance to the finals, which start at 2:40 p.m.

— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Follow on Twitter @WinStarSports1

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