The McAllen Memorial cheerleading team sat quietly by the stage and waited to hear who would be this year’s Class 6A UIL Spirit State Champion. They certainly didn’t expect a repeat after having the slightest of “flaws” in one of their final day routines.
Their overall body of work, however, was just too good and to their surprise for the second straight year they claimed that championship on Saturday at the Fort Worth Convention Center.
“When we stepped off the mat, we knew we hadn’t done quite our best and felt we left the door open for someone else,” said head coach Pedro Ramirez, in his 29th year directing the squad. “After the first three preliminary rounds we were ranked first, but it’s a clean slate in the final round. So it actually came as a surprise when they announced us.”
But the squad had been talking about this since last year, he said.
“This year we would be the target, we set the standard this year,” Ramirez said. “I told the girls that they were the only ones who could beat themselves, so they needed to overcome and conquer. That’s what they did. I’m so proud of them.”
More than half of the 24 members of the team are new this season. Senior leadership, however, led by captains Karina Falcon and Cassandra Sauceda, got the team into harmonic step in time for the state’s biggest event.
UIL began this competition just four years ago, so now the Mustangs have captured the biggest title in two of the four years, with this year edging out Southlake Carroll for top honors.
The Mustangs were one of 54 schools in Class 6A Div. II.
The first day had three preliminary rounds, each with a different element. First they were judged on the school fight song, next the band dance, like a performance they would do during a timeout. The third round element was a crowd-leading cheer.
Memorial won the fight song and cheer rounds, and after the first rounds they were in first. The top 20 advanced to the championship rounds.
“You have three minutes to perform four elements in that final round,” Ramirez said. “You do the previous three, but then they add a situational sideline event. An announcer might say something like ‘the Mustangs need a big stop here’ and you have to react and get the right words in your cheer.”
This year, the Mustangs were given an offensive situation that had to have the word “score” in it. Ramirez said the captains reacted perfectly, calling for the right cheer in that situation.
“You have to say the right word or phrase – just like in a game,” Ramirez said. “Sometimes you can’t see well from where you are standing too, so you use elements like how close the teams are to the ball, or see where the electronic ball (possession) is next to what team on the scoreboard. You need to react fast.”
The Mustangs returned home to a spirited rally on Sunday with teachers, students, administration and others welcoming back the two-time state champions.
“It was pretty exciting and the girls deserved it,” Ramirez said. “We are in the customer service field — we’ll go cheer for everyone else because we love to do that — we cheer for football, basketball, swimming, everything. This was our one small chance to do something for ourselves and the girls were amazing once again.”
Watch the McAllen Memorial Cheerleaders react to winning the state championship.
Posted by The Monitor on Sunday, January 20, 2019