Marriotts Ridge seniors Caroline Corbliss and Kelvey Richards got a glimpse of their coach, Kelly O’Brien, out of the corner of their eye and immediately their smiles got a little bigger.
In the aftermath of their routine at the Howard County winter cheerleading championships Saturday morning, O’Brien’s reaction confirmed what they already somewhat knew — the Mustangs had nailed it.
“We know when Mrs. O’Brien runs onto the floor that we’re in good shape,” Corbliss said.
Richards added, “It’s only the second time it’s happened … and the first time was the first time we won the winter (championship). So when we saw her do it today, we knew it was a good sign.”
Sure enough, roughly an hour after its performance, Marriotts Ridge was rewarded for what turned out to be one of the day’s cleanest routines when it heard its name called as champions of this year’s competition.
It’s the third straight winter that the team has won the title, with this year’s score of 138.7 points enough to edge out second-place Glenelg (130.15) and third-place Long Reach (127.6)
According to O’Brien, quality competition and the pressure that goes along with winning the previous two titles only served as extra motivation for her girls.
“I think pressure motivates anybody in any sport and I really feel that these girls felt that pressure because there are some very good teams in Howard County this year,” she said. “Everybody I felt did really well today. We still had to wait for the final results, but, regardless of what they were, they did great and I was very proud of them.”
Each of the top three teams now advance to the regional competition, which is scheduled for next Thursday at River Hill high school.
For Marriotts Ridge, which finished sixth at last year’s winter state championships, it’s the fourth straight winter season the team is headed to regionals.
However, after failing to finish inside the top four during the county championship cheerleading competition this past fall, there was a little extra drive this winter to regain the county’s top spot.
“I would definitely say that motivated them,” O’Brien said. “There was that feeling of knowing they were better than that and that they had the potential to do it. So to then be able to hit it perfect today was just a final gratification of everything.”
There were very few mistakes in the routine Saturday for the Mustangs. In fact, of the nine teams that competed, Marriotts Ridge was the only one not to receive any deductions.
Corbliss was particularly pleased with the execution of the pyramid late in the routine.
“Once we hit that, we knew we were good.” She said.
As for the biggest differences from the fall, Richards says some personnel additions to the team went a long way.
“I think we definitely get a lot more cheerleaders in the winter and that makes our team a lot stronger,” Richards said. “This year, for example, we got a girl (Alexis Zadjura) from the soccer team that definitely helped. The fall sports athletes provide a lot of strength.”
Glenelg, which features nine seniors and a competition team of more than 20 individuals, put together a solid routine of its own on the way to second place. It was the highest finish for the Gladiators in the past five seasons (fall or spring).
“They did an awesome job. We have a few things that we need to fix and improve upon for regionals, but overall we are very proud of them as coaches,”Glenelg coach Elissa Maisel said. “They worked hard, they went out there and sold their routine and that’s what we expected of them.”
As for the dynasty Marriotts Ridge is building, Corbliss and Richards simply say they are just pleased they and their teammates were able to continue the tradition.
“Me and Kelvey have been cheering together forever and this is kind of our last couple times together, so this really means a lot,” Corbliss said. “I was really happy. This could not have been a better way to end our counties run.”