Like many other high school activities, state cheerleading in Iowa looked much different compared to years past due to COVID-19.
Although there were some changes, like sending in videos of the teams’ performances instead of performing in-person, those changes didn’t seem to affect the scores of the Mason City and Newman Catholic cheer teams.
Mason City was able to bring home three first place finishes and a second place finish, while Newman Catholic brought home first place finishes in both categories it participated in over the weekend.
The Mason City cheer team competed in Class 4A and placed second in the Band Chant division with 68.5 points, first in the School Fight Song division with 70.9 points, first in the Time Out Stunt/Tumble division with 164.7 points and first in the Spirit of Iowa Overall division with 304.1 points.
“It was very exciting. There were tears from a lot of us,” Mason City coach Janna Arndt said. “Being the smallest 4A school, you always feel like the oddball out a little bit. It was tremendous. I don’t know if I expected to do so well.”
In years past, Arndt says the Mohawks normally hang in the top five in all their events they normally participate in.
This year, the Mohawks beat nine other teams in the Time Out Stunt/Tumble division, 12 other teams in the Spirit of Iowa Overall division and 15 other schools in the School Fight Song division.
“I really appreciate the girls and the hard work because this year has not only been tough, but it’s been mentally tough,” Arndt said. “It’s nice to see them get through that and come out basically grand champions of 4A. They deserve it.”
The Newman Catholic cheer team only participated in two events in Class 1A, but won both of them. The Knights came in first with 156.3 points in the Time Out Division and first with 69.8 points in the School Fight Song division.
“So exciting. We’ve been working the last two years to get a first-place finish at state cheer,” Newman Catholic coach Kathy Steenblock said. “This meant the world to my juniors and seniors who have really been pushing for it. We were just so excited and so happy to see our name at the top of the list.”
For both schools to finish so high is a big accomplishment for them, especially this year. Many new challenges were put in front of the teams, like wearing masks and sending in performances virtually.
Arndt says the Mason City team did many of its practices outside to better spread out and social distance. Steenblock says Newman Catholic sanitized often and worked hard to keep safe.
“When you’re wearing a mask the whole time you’re practicing, it could be difficult when you’re cheering because half of your points and scores are based off what your face is doing and how loud you’re being,” Steenblock said.
Regardless of the challenges, both Mason City and Newman Catholic were able to achieve and accomplish its goals.
Gunnar Davis covers education and sports. Reach him via email at Gunnar.Davis@GlobeGazette.com or by phone 641-421-0598.