By John Raffel

Val MacKenzie has been coaching 34 years for competitive cheer and her Sanford Meridian squad enjoyed an outstanding season.
Meridian won the Jack Pine Conference and was second in districts, second in regionals and fifth in the state finals for Division 4.
“The Meridian team this year was a persistent, dedicated, goal-originated team,” MacKenzie said. “They met all the standards of their goals. We met our expectations. We set goals at the beginning of the season.  First to be Jack Pine champions, second to place at districts to go on to regionals, third to place at regionals and on to states. We did it all.”
MacKenzie was impressed with her team’s growth.
“We have one senior, four juniors, two sophomores, and five freshmen,” MacKenzie said. “The training the freshman took from the older girls to learn and grow was phenomenal. Each girl had great achievements this season which proved great for season ending.
“We had a great season and we coaches are very proud of them. Key graduate is Kailee Charette. She is the only senior and is a great athlete. She is an awesome back spot for round three and has great jumps
and fundamentals for round one. Kailee made second team all-state.”
Returners are juniors Lexi Cryderman, Danica Poston, Harlee Quesada and Angela Nichols, Lylian Stout, and Julie Teachworth will be great assets next season with their skills, jumps, and round three for backs and bases. Lexi, Danica, Harlee, and Angela all made the district and regional teams. Lexi and Harlee made the state team.
“Sophomores, Gabby Streeter and Makenzie Cowell will be back with great abilities in jumps, and round 3
requirements. Freshman, Ellie Beach, Amiah Brandt, Marlee Kelly, Payton Mathe, and Alyza Molski will return also next season,” MacKenzie said. “Ellie, Marlee, Payton, and Alyza all have great skills, fundamentals and jumps. They all made the district, regional team with Ellie, Marlee, and Alyza making the state team.
“Next year looks great. We are excited to start again and will be adding some upcoming freshman that we feel will be assets to our team.”
As for this year, “we had a great sisterhood and everyone excelled to the best of their ability. This team proved that hard work is key.”
Other local teams also placed at the state meet.
Pewamo-Westphalia was second and Merrill fourth in Division 4.
Portland was sixth, Tri County seventh and Lake Odessa Lakewood eighth in Division 3. Cedar Springs was fifth in Division 2.