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They only see each other across the field at football games before the big competition and yet the goal is always the same: To defeat the opposition and take home the championship trophy.

The best of the best rose to the occasion as the North Point Eagles advanced to and won the state championships on Nov. 10 on their home floor.

La Plata High School, coached by Elizabeth Thoma, won the County Cheerleading Championships on Nov. 1 at North Point, while the Eagles finished second. North Point has six county championship titles behind it. It’s the first time in three years that the Warriors have won.

North Point, coached by MyKel Jones, advanced to finish third at regionals on Nov. 7 and then went on to take home the state title. C.M. Wright of Hartford County finished in second place.

North Point captains Jazzmin Lee, Sarah Buffington, Taryn Savoy and Jeda Greenwood were the original members of the team who started together four years ago.

My captains have always led by example,” Jones said. “They just have not been as vocal as leaders in the past. The four of them came as freshmen the first year that I coached at North Point. I made a promise to them that they would win a state championship before they would graduate. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure about that a couple of months into the season. Our inexperience was showing in practices. The team just wasn't jelling like the previous years.

“[After they announced the winner], the crowd roared, the kids jumped up and down, the coaches hugged each other. Those four kids that I had made the promise to four years ago shed tears of joy. I took a seat in disbelief. It had finally happened when we least expected. State Champs. It had all been worth while.”

Buffington said it was the best feeling she’s ever had competing.

“We hit our routine to best of our ability,” Buffington said. “I had a good feeling going in. We wanted to do our best and walk off the mat without any regrets. We were happy for La Plata, they hit their routines. We definitely stepped our difficulty up this year and we utilized it to the best of our abilities.”

Buffington said that she, along with the other three captains, took initiative to motivate the team and prepare as much as possible. Buffington won’t be participating on the winter team as she’ll be helping with the unified bocce team at North Point.

Buffington said that the one thing that sets the Eagles cheerleading team apart is the professionalism they display in competition.

“I think we work so hard to prepare and our coaches instill in us to be professional and cheer on the other teams,” Buffington said. “It doesn’t matter if you have the best team if you’re a bad person. Just always remain respectful and professional.”

Smiling time at La Plata

Thoma has the county championship trophy displayed in her classroom and smiles each time she looks at it.

In her seven years of coaching, she is now very proud of her teams accomplishment and said the hard work is paying off. La Plata’s captains are Ann Marie Colburn, Kendall Lemmert, Jessica Curtis and Jamie Rowell and each have been cheering with Thoma for four years.

Curtis said when the announcement was made, her heart sank.

“Our team, just like any other has put in numerous hours of hard work, blood, sweat and tears into a routine of 2 minutes and 30 seconds,” Curtis said. “Even though North Point is our biggest competitor, they also had the most respect and applauded us for winning. I’m glad to say we brought back a banner that proudly hangs in our gym my senior year.”

Thoma said that Thomas Stone and McDonough as well as North Point were strong competitors for her team.

“We had a couple extra practice days [because of Hurricane Sandy postponing the event] and Thomas Stone was nice enough to let us use their mats,” Thoma said. “The entire team as a whole stepped up this year and they were very supportive of each other. They were such a fantastic group of girls, and gave it 110 percent at practice and at games.”

Thoma had one freshman on the squad this season, Kayla Pesante, and added that she worked really hard and stayed composed and modest.

Thoma said her team moms were always there offering to help, especially Stephanie Lemmert, Michelle Colburn and Teresa Wood.

“All the parents were just really supportive and helpful.” Thoma said.

The teams in the county will compete again in the winter.

“I absolutely do consider cheerleading a sport,” Thoma said. “The girls are athletes. The tossing and tumbling take strength, physical and mental. It takes practice. They have to know how to do it or someone’s going to get hurt. I don’t think people think it’s a sport because of how it was in the past. Cheering then wasn’t what it is today. It wasn’t as competitive.”

Westlake placed fifth in the county under first-year head coach in Yolanda Makle. The team’s captain was Amber Jordan and co-captains were Alexis Collins and Jaia Davis, all of whom are seniors and have cheered at Westlake their entire high school careers. Davis is the school’s student body president.

“The varsity team came in fifth place [in the county], but we had the least amount of safety deductions of all the varsity teams in the county, which is definitely something to be proud of,” Makle said. “All three of the Westlake cheerleading teams performed to the best that could be expected considering each team suffered key injuries either on the day of competition or during the immediate days prior, which caused several last minute changes to the routines.

tshowalter@somdnews.com