By Joseph Hayes
They are champions once again.
That has become the norm specifically for one cheerleading program in the Blue Water Area.
The Richmond High School cheer team claimed its fifth overall Division 3 state championship on Friday; to add to its list of accomplishments as a program.
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At the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State University, Richmond overcame a small advantage entering the third and final round to win the title and conclude a three-peat of cheer championships.
Richmond led Paw Paw by only three tenths of a point entering the third round. But that’s where Richmond would save its best performance for last, to win with 771.62 points.
That was followed by Paw Paw High School (770.72) and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep High School (767.42).
“It was definitely crazy to say the least,” Richmond cheer coach Kelli Matthes said of the season, after concluding her 13th year as coach. “Starts and stops, zoom practices, kid quarantined, not being able to stunt or spot kids tumbling. A season like no other that’s for sure.
“We only had our entire team together at one practice before districts. Considering the cards we were dealt, the kids handled everything beautifully and we made a lot of progress in a very short period of time.”
Richmond’s legacy seems to continue to grow more each year as the team adds to its ever-growing trophy case.
Richmond has now won cheerleading championships in 2012 and 2013 to go along with titles in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
The different nature of this season however, along with the trials the team faced along the way, made the experience even more special for those involved in 2021.
Despite limited practices throughout the year, Richmond seemed to be at its best when it mattered most and peaked at the state finals.
“Amazing,” Matthes said of the growth. “They truly did have their best day on the most important day of the year.
“I am extremely proud and humbled by what this program has grown into.”
When asked to reflect on the year and how much this title meant to her considering everything, coach Matthes said:
“We graduated ten seniors last year, plus all of the covid restrictions and limitations,” she recalled. “The fact that we were able to come out on top says a tremendous amount about the kids and this program.”
The Richmond wrestling program will now attempt to follow the same direction.
The Richmond wrestlers will return on Tuesday for their push at a state title, after clinching a spot in the state quarterfinal last week.