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The Rocky Point cheerleading team gets into formation. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Rocky Point continues to control the top spot.

The Eagles cheerleading team showed why it’s a 13-time regional and three-time national champion when it took to the mat Dec. 18 in the Small School Division I meet. The Eagles competed against 10 other teams and placed first in the event with a flawless two-and-a-half-minute performance that wowed the near-capacity crowd at Comsewogue High School.

The Rocky Point cheerleading team performs for the crowd. Photo by Bill Landon

They were the seventh squad to perform, and took to the mat with a presence. Every tumble was crisp and deliberate, every flip landed in unison and every pyramid was mistake free. The Eagles made it look easy and the girls smiled from ear to ear because they were confident, and genuinely having fun.

Rocky Point head coach Anna Spallina said one challenge her team has had to face with the new rules is getting used to the limited number of practices allowed.

“We still do the three hours sometimes — it’s hard, but three hours is three hours, they know that they have to come to practice and be serious about their work,” she said. “And we keep the level of pride up there.”

She said her girls know the level that they need to uphold, not just for her, but for the judges.

“They know that they’re going to be picked apart a lot harder than any other team,” Spallina said, “because they’re looking for them to make a mistake.”

Senior Kristin Flatley said that with six years of experience, after landing on the mat for the final time, she thought her team aced the performance. Her teammates erupted into celebration, too, because they thought the same thing.

“I think we nailed everything — we work so hard, we practice three hours every single day, we just have to push it out hard,” she said. “We fight for everything, we’re so strong and we know we have it. We bring that excitement to the mat.”

Senior Brittany Reh said her team performed well in every area of the routine.

“They know that they’re going to be picked apart a lot harder than any other team because they’re looking for them to make a mistake.”

—Anna Spallina

“I’m very proud of my team,” Reh said. “We had a lot of energy and I’m really proud of how we executed.”

Spallina told her team that with every competition there’s only one team to beat out on the floor.

“We keep telling them that you actually have to beat yourself at every competition, and that’s hard to do,” she said. “Everyone wants to pick off the top dog.”

Bailey Klein said her team ends every routine leaving it all out on the mat.

“I knew that as soon as the music went on — I looked around and everyone was smiling,” Klein said. “We were having so much fun, we cheer each other on throughout and no one was going to give up.”

Rocky Point senior Morganne Nofi said there’s an element of the routine that only comes with time, which is why the girls are seeing such positive results.

“I think what helped us today is we walked out on the mat with confidence,” she said. “We didn’t hold back anything, we knew what we were capable of and we did show that today. It’s part of our focus — to have a presence when you walk out on the floor. You can’t describe it, but it’s a strong feeling.”

Behind the Eagles were Wantagh, Hauppauge, East Islip and Comsewogue.

Rocky Point hits the competition mat again Jan. 8 at Newfield High School at 9 a.m.