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Cheer dynasty continues as Chesapeake wins 7th straight county crown, 19th overall

When Kent Island coach Meghan Arboleda informed longtime decorated Chesapeake cheerleading coach Lisa Elliott that she’d win by six, Elliott called her crazy.

Then, when Chesapeake’s junior varsity squad shuffled up to collect their own gold medal, Arboleda prodded Elliott again: “Bet me.”

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Elliott guessed 126. Her counterpart from across the Bay Bridge wagered 126.1.

When announcer Wiley Baker called out Chesapeake’s dynasty-extending score, the Cougars coaches just had to laugh. Arboleda hit the nail on the head.

Chesapeake continued down its path towards defending its regional and state titles with yet another win in the winter county championships, its seventh straight between fall and winter and 19th overall.

Chesapeake holds the third-longest active streak in Anne Arundel county championships, trailing only Severna Park boys cross country (nine) and Severna Park tennis (12).

With 126.1 points, the Cougars fulfilled that brief prophecy, edging out Arundel (120.55) and then in third, South River (120.3) — a mirror image of the podium from the fall county competition.

Glen Burnie placed fourth (120), Old Mill fifth (118.9) and Northeast sixth (114.7).

Every junior, sophomore and freshman in Chesapeake’s ranks has never tasted defeat on the county floor. But for the seniors, including flyer Ashley Brewis who took on the Cougars’ first difficult move in the performance, closing out their career with a county championship win over Arundel meant something more.

“Normally, you’d think athletes wouldn’t remember that kind of thing, especially that many years ago,” Elliott said. “But we were talking about it the last two days of practice, our seniors were like, ‘We lost freshman year by .5 to Arundel!’ We don’t talk about that, normally we just worry about us. But with that, I was like, ‘Oh wow, that must have stung pretty bad.’ For this to be number seven in a row, I’m pretty excited.”

That bitter moment lingered in Brewis’ mind as she turned her focus towards the winter season.

Senior Khiyon Washington is having a senior season to behold after deciding to return to Southern High.

“Every day we tell ourselves — we know what we got to do,” she said. “Even though we lost that title, we came back every day in practice and worked our butt off. We haven’t let that go since.”

Initially, while choreographing their winter routine, the Cougars hadn’t even considered a stunt like a one-and-a-half up. But Brewis wanted to evolve, elect something from a college skill-level. This would be her last showcase on the county stage, and Brewis couldn’t allow herself to walk out with the same aging moves that she’d brought out in years past.

In practice, she nailed it on the second try.

“We pushed the limits with that. We’ve been tossing back and forth, are we going to take it out before counties, but it’s been hitting at practice, it’s been hitting at all our invitationals,” Elliott said. “We decided, ‘let’s just go with it.’”

The Cougars upped the ante in the fall county championship, implementing freshly-legal moves into a high-stakes, high-movement performance.

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But to excel, Chesapeake felt everyone needed to push themselves even further. While some teams choose to carry the same sets over from fall to winter to improve upon, Chesapeake ditched the old routine, all except their tumbling and fulls to the front, simply because they’re fond of it.

“We have a brand new stunt, a brand new pyramid – we do all brand new things in the winter just to keep it fresh. If you don’t, they (Chesapeake cheerleaders) get tired of you doing the same stuff,” Elliott said. “I feel like all the skills we implemented in the fall were the same, we just did them a different way.”

Working on new moves wasn’t all Chesapeake had to overcome. From the center of the Cougars ensemble, Skylar Storm screamed with the same intensity as the roar of the mountain cat that preceded two minutes of high flying, stunts and tumbles. Storm and teammate Makayla Frommelt had battled their own bodies to be on the floor on Thursday night, with ankle issues that sidelined Frommelt for six weeks and one that continues to plague Storm.

Now, they all turn their attention to regionals in Harford County on Feb. 5, and states on Feb. 13, and Chesapeake intends to repeat there as well.

The Cougars may be flying and tumbling into a Renaissance period of Chesapeake dominance. The Pasadena squad swept county, region and state titles from in 2008, 2009 and 2010 before other teams, feeding off Chesapeake’s methods of success, jumped in. Now, the Cougars are crafting another untouchable run of the same length.

And like before, Brewis knows what to do to make it happen.

“We’re going to work to be as a team, get all our stuff done at practice,” she said. “We like to have some fun when we hit our stuff and we’re just going to keep going with what we’re doing.”

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