CHS Competition Cheer Team Eyes BNC Cheerleading Title


CHS Cheer Team celebrates its first place finish in the Big North / Liberty Division on Feb. 6

The CHS Competition Cheer Team will be competing at home in the 2023 Big North Conference Championship on Friday, Feb. 17.

Eight teams are scheduled to take to the mat when the semifinal round gets underway at 7:00 p.m. in the CHS gym. The top four teams advance to the finals where they will compete for a second time starting at 8:05 p.m. The team with the highest score will be named the Big North Champion.

By every measure, the Mustangs are having a phenomenal season. “We expected big results this season, and our team has exceeded our expectations,” Coach Gina Matano said. “Our team has been working hard since August, attending stunt clinics, tumbling sessions, and choreography camps.”

All their hard work has paid off. The Mustangs won the Big North Liberty Division championship earlier this month for the second year in a row. They now have a record of 7-1.

In competition, routines are judged on their difficulty, smoothness, creativity, and pep. “The one thing that will draw your attention is the energy that our team gives while performing,” Matano said. “They truly love entertaining the crowd and it's something they do every time they step on the mat. Their energy creates an electric atmosphere and it's a feeling that you will never forget.”

“Be sure to look out for our coed basket and our coed stunt!” Yes, coed. There are two males on the team this year.

As an independent dancer, CHS sophomore Elizabeth Latorre was looking to find something bigger than herself when she joined the squad a little more than a year ago. “I had always seen the cheerleaders and how they were so genuine in their fun,” Latorre said, adding, “The fact that not only was it an independent sport, but the cheerleaders were also a part of other major school sports such as football and basketball.”

Although not a prerequisite for competitive cheering, dancing appears to be widely enjoyed by all of the athletes. “I wanted to try something new in high school after dancing for so many years,” senior Camila Vasquez said. For a flyer like Vasquez, trying something new means being lifted high into the air, balancing herself on one leg while lifting the other leg, and maintaining a smile the entire time.

Sportsmanship and perseverance are what sets this team apart. Throughout the season CHS Competition Cheer has garnered much praise for its supportiveness. “They truly wish the best for every team, even the ones we compete against,” Matano said.

“Success is often about facing tough challenges and sticking through it” is contained in a tweet posted by a member of NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover team. It’s a message that resonates with the Clifton coaches and cheerleaders alike. “With all the adversity that has come our way this season, this team knows how to push through and do what they do best – perform.”

Matano leads a coaching staff that includes Samantha Segda, Sarah Post, and Laura Tunnell.

While trying not to look beyond Friday, the Mustangs can’t help but train their sights on the biggest prize of all: the 2023 NJCDCA State Championship which takes place Feb. 25 at Brookdale Community College. Clifton is scheduled to perform at 12:06 p.m.

Photos courtesy of CHS Competition Cheer Team

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