Practice, precision & poise: Mount Anthony cheer team competing at regional

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BENNINGTON — A good cheer routine requires precision, moves practiced for three or four months in a routine the team has run over and over again, so many times they could do it in their sleep.

The Mount Anthony cheer team doesn't have that luxury this weekend when they head to Worcester State University for the 13th annual New England championships.

MAU coach Jamie Capriola-George has been dealing with injuries and other issues throughout the season, forcing the team to change the routine just in the past two days to make up for those losses.

"They were second at both Vermont meets and then third at the states for the third year in a row," Capriola-George said.

The team qualified for New Englands at the first meet of the season. To qualify, a team needs a score of better than 150 on a routine and MAU scored a 164.5, easily moving them into the regionals.

"It's not a traditional sport where you have first-string and second-string," Capriola-George said. "We don't have that. When you plan a routine and then you don't have someone underneath to lift you up or a girl on the top [of the pyramid], you have to re-work the entire routine. If one person is out, the whole formation is off and this is a subjectively judged competition, so they score on formation and placements."

Team members are judged in a handful of different categories, including pyramids, the transitions and the flow of the routine, stunts, tumbling, jumps, dance and the overall performance.

"It definitely takes time to learn and it can be difficult if you're switching your spot," said MAU senior Kyla Obenauer. "Everyone practices at home because we all want to do good."

Despite the adversity, Capriola-George said her team has been resilient and flexible with the changes.

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"We've had two practices since we've changed [the routine]," Capriola-George said. "We had the same issues in the first two events of the year, an injury right beforehand that forced us to change, and they did amazing. They are a great group of girls, they work really well together. They all are willing to go the extra length for their team and themselves."

There's only two seniors on the squad this season in Obenauer and Patterson, but the majority of the team have been working together or with Capriola-George since they were on the youth teams.

"Most of these kids I've been working with at least six years," said Capriola-George, who coaches teams from youth, middle school and high school levels. "They know my style and I know theirs. They've been working with each other for a very long time."

Obenauer and Patterson said they are just looking to do their best routine.

"I've been on the team with most of the girls since sixth grade, so we all know each other really well," Obenauer said. "We're so close we get through it and with our coach's support."

This is the third straight season that Mount Anthony is going to New Englands, finishing ninth in Division II last year and sixth in Division III in 2017. They return back to D-III for this year.

"New Englands is always extra," Capriola-George said. "For us, our goal is to go out and do the best routine we can do. It's the best of the best from all the New England states. We have a long break in between states and New Englands, we try to fix things that the judges tell us about from states. We enjoy going and watching some amazing teams from all over the region."

Patterson, who said she might get involved in gymnastics at the college level, said that New Englands is a time to have fun.

"It's nice to be with your team, but it's also a time to watch other teams," Patterson said. "We just want to do our best and finish the season as well as we can."

The team members attending the New England tournament include: Iris Patterson, Kyla Obenauer, Jordan Mattison, Keana Gauthier, Amber Metcalfe, Marisa Rabideau, Zoey Stanley, Daphne Roy, Madison Boyer, Alexis Harrington, Payton Santarcangelo and Karsen Dunican.


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