Hayley Wingo and Amy Jarvis chat with us after the competition. (Megan Woodward / Carroll County Times)
Call it a testament to their hard work, or their chemistry — Westminster knows what it takes to come out on top.
When Francis Scott Key and Manchester Valley were announced as the third and second place winners of the Carroll County Winter Varsity Cheerleading Championship, the Owls and remaining county contenders clapped for their counterparts. The Owls kneeled forward on the ground with their heads bowed to await the final result.
The Westminster gymnasium erupted with screams of excitement when its hosts were awarded the first place trophy with a team score of 114.5, outlasting Man Valley's score (111.65).
"It feels great," Owls senior Amy Jarvis said. "We put in a lot of hard work to get here and we couldn't have done it without our coaches and Alex Taylor who choreographed our routine so we've had a lot of supporters to help us get here."
As county victors, the Owls earned an automatic bid in the state-semifinal competition at Harford Community College on Feb. 11. The remaining teams' scores will be sorted by state directors and the top half teams from Class 1A/2A and 3A/4A will also advance.
The teams should expect to be notified of their placement by Feb. 2.
This is the 10th county title for Westminster and its second in a row. The Owls captured the fall county championship at the end of October, edging Liberty with 124.45 points.
"I would sum it up as the friendships and relationships we've all created with our team members," Owls junior Hayley Wingo said. "They're going to last a lifetime."
Wingo said Alex and Pam Taylor, the Owls' coach, were already in the works planning a new routine before the fall season came to a close. In doing so, they wanted to push the team to make them better with the hopes of winning a state title.
"A lot, they have a lot of chemistry so they were here in the fall, came back in the winter and the team chemistry just helps a lot," Taylor said. "They just work really well together so keeping them together makes my job much easier."
Five varsity teams competed — Francis Scott Key, Manchester Valley, South Carroll, Westminster and Winters Mill — and Century, Liberty, Man Valley and Westminster's junior varsity teams participated as well.
The junior varsity Owls were first place victors as well, defeating second place Man Valley (94.25) and third place Liberty (91.5) with a 94.4 team score.
Jarvis, one of the squad's four seniors, said that the team practices every day, even if that means Saturdays and early mornings. The girls have their sights set on a successful state-semifinal performance with hopes that it doesn't end there.
Above all, Jarvis said her experience has been a gratifying one.
"It's been really rewarding," Jarvis added. "Honestly, these girls are like my sisters and I love them and I wouldn't want to do this with anyone else."