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Cheerleading

Rocky Point varsity cheer team. Photo courtesy RPSD.

The Rocky Point varsity cheerleading team placed first in Small Division II at the Universal Cheer Association National High School Cheerleading Championships on Feb. 9-12 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. 

Throughout the weekend the team competed against over 90 teams. Competing three times with zero deductions in their routine. Rocky Point also won this award in 2020. 

Congratulations to the team members and coaches Samantha Ferrara and Jessica Fleischer, both winning a national championship in their first season. Coach Ferrara was a seventh grader on the Rocky Point varsity team when they won their third national title in 2014 under the tutelage of coach Anna Spallina. She is in an elite group of cheer coaches who have won a national championship as both a cheerleader and a coach.

Winning team members are Ariana Amato, Kaylee Gallino, Abby Rae Hughes, Samantha Morelli, Sophia Musraca, Caiden Palank, Alexis Polaski, Ella Reisinger, Reese Rogers, Alison Rubinetti, Callie Russell, Edie Sternkopf, Adrianna Tavolaro, Ella Velazquez, Avery Ward and Scarlett Ward. 

“This team continually displays tremendous effort and sets high standards for winning,” Rocky Point athletic director Jonathon Rufa said. “The girls began the year knowing that a national championship was possible for Rocky Point and they continued to gain confidence, power and focus throughout the season to achieve one of their championship goals.”

By Bill Landon

It was the elite 11 cheerleading teams who made it to the Suffolk County finals at Sachem East High School Saturday, Feb. 17, in the Class A and coed competitions looking to punch their ticket to the state championship round next month.

Centereach High School team dazzled the fans in their 2 1/2 minute routine followed by Commack in front of a capacity crowd. Smithtown East took to the mat for their time in the spotlight in a spirited routine clearly happy with their performance.

Ward Melville stole the show in the coed division with an inspiring demonstration scoring 92.6 to capture the Section XI crown and with it will make the journey to the Visions Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton for the state finals March 2. 

Newfield varsity competes in cheer competition. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Riverhead High School hosted a varsity cheer competition where 44 different high schools converged throughout the day on Saturday, Jan. 27, where each school showcased their school spirit in four different categories in an all-day event.

Newfield wowed the crowd in their 2 1/2 minute performance in the Class A Division collecting 70.65 points from the judges before a near-capacity audience. 

Newfield retakes the mat on Saturday, Feb. 3, in another multischool competition at Hauppauge High School at 12 p.m.

— Photos by Bill Landon 

Ward Melville varsity competes in co-ed cheer competition. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Riverhead High School hosted a varsity cheer competition where 44 different high schools converged throughout the day on Saturday, Jan. 27, where each school showcased their school spirit in an all-day event.

The Patriots of Ward Melville was the class of the field, winning first place in the Coed Division with a rousing performance center stage in front of a packed gymnasium. Scoring 90.3 by the panel of judges, the Patriots took home top honors over second place Walt Whitman who notched a score of 79.9. 

Patriot head coach Georgia Gass said she was pleased with her team’s performance. “This team works so hard day in and day out at every practice and it showed today,” she said. “They have a way of drawing everyone’s attention whenever they’re on the mat,” adding that she and her assistant coach Maggie Hurley are incredibly proud of what their team has accomplished.

The win keeps the Patriots atop the Suffolk County leader board with an 86.73 average followed by Walt Whitman at 78.01, while Half Hollow Hills rounds out the top three at 76.94.

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The Northport varsity cheerleaders competed in two separate competitions in two different states this past weekend and came out with two bids to compete on the national stage.

On Saturday, Dec. 3, they boarded a pre-sunrise bus to the Universal Cheerleading Association’s Pocono Regionals held in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where they competed in two separate divisions — Game Day and Traditional. Cheer teams from all over the Northeast strutted their stuff, and Northport placed 3rd in the Game Day category and 9th in Traditional. 

Based on this performance, they earned bids to compete in both categories at the U.C.A. championship held in Walt Disney World in February 2023 — the first time an N.V.C team has ever accomplished this.

The travel-weary troupe  were back at it early Sunday morning in a Suffolk County competition and placed 4th in their first local competition of the season.  Host school Longwood came in first.

The team is made up of seniors Kate Sheahan, Hailey Trudwig, Hailey Smolcnop, Stephanie Downey, Bridget Caulfield, Maddie Cianelli, juniors Olivia Robert, Alexa Ehrlich, sophomores Allie Bartholomew, Alexa Garrison, Emily Nichols, Sophia Stern, Lorena Della Vecchia, Brooke Wenger, Lindsay Grabowski and eighth-grader Marley Caccamo. It is led by Coach Steph Walsh.

Students from the Port Jefferson School District. Photo courtesy PJSD

In preparation for Port Jefferson’s Homecoming game on Saturday, Oct. 22, the varsity cheerleaders, along with coach Sharon Gatz, hosted a cheerleading clinic for students in grades 1-6.

More than 30 students attended the clinic on Thursday, Oct. 20, where they learned an exciting cheerleading routine. The cheer clinic attendees will show off their skills with a performance during halftime of this weekend’s Homecoming football game.

“The cheer clinic was a great idea of Coach Sharon,” athletic director Adam Sherrard said. “It helped promote the cheer program, fostered relationships between students of different ages in the school district and will add to the positive environment of Homecoming.”

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The Wildcats of Shoreham-Wading River put on a show in a multi-school cheerleading meet placing 6th in the large school category at Centereach High School Feb. 5. 

It was the last cheer competition of the regular season before the Suffolk championships Feb. 19 at Hauppauge High School. 

Photos by Bill Landon 

The Cougars of Centereach competed in the coed cheer competition in a multi-school meet Feb. 5 on their home court placing 3rd with a score of 74.95. 

It’s the last cheer competition of the season before the Suffolk Championships Feb. 19 at Hauppauge High School.

Photos by Bill Landon 

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone introduced a plan Jan. 25 for the return of high-risk sports. Photo from Bellone’s office

High-risk sports such as basketball, wrestling and cheerleading can resume, days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) gave local health commissioners the green light to allow these sports to restart.

Suffolk County has developed a sports plan in connection with Suffolk County School Superintendents Association and Section XI Athletics.

“We know how important sports are in our kids’ lives,” County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said during a Jan. 25 press conference announcing the resumption of high-risk sports. “If we can get kids back on the field in as safe a way as possible, we know it’ll bring great benefits.”

As a part of the sports program, all student-athletes will have to take weekly tests for the COVID-19 virus. The county will provide free, rapid tests to school districts, which school nurses will administer.

“Testing is critical,” Bellone said.

New York State is expected to provide an initial allocation of 20,00 rapid tests and will look to provide more tests for schools to use each week.

Positive tests will result in a 10-day quarantine. Each coach is required to supply information to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services for an extensive contact tracing investigation.

The county issued several guidelines, including taking temperatures of players and coaches before practices and games, encouraging mask wearing whenever possible, enforcing social distances when student-athletes are not playing, minimizing equipment sharing, and requiring hand washing before and after practices and games as well as after sharing equipment.

The county also advised programs to play outdoors if possible and to use well-ventilated spaces.

Through Bellone’s office, the county has created the Champion of the Community Pledge, which encourages athletes to take numerous safety measures.

After they read the pledge, students will be asked to sign it and give it to the school.

As a part of this agreement, students accept that if they don’t honor their pledge, they “would be failing to comply with a legitimate school directive and pursuant to school and Section XI policies, students, faculty and staff will be subject to the appropriate accountability measures and disciplinary actions,” according to the pledge.

Athletes must stay safe, healthy and informed of COVID-19 updates, unite with team members and the community to have a memorable season, follow face mask, hygiene and social distancing guidelines, follow additional health and safety requirements, which may include testing and self-quarantining, operating in a healthy environment and completing daily declarations, lead by example and serve as a role model for team members and the community.

Boys and girls basketball, wrestling and competitive cheer will resume Feb. 1 and will conclude Feb. 27.

On average, more than 60,000 student-athletes participate in various high school sports during a normal school year.

Bellone also directed the Suffolk County Parks Department to work with Section XI to set up a fair process for districts to schedule cross-country meets in county parks.

Park sites that the county will make available for competition include West Hills County Park in Melville and Blydenburgh County Park in Smithtown.

The cross-country season will begin March 1.