Springfield Invitational: 'These girls worked so hard'

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Cheerleading teams rallied from all around Oregon to compete Saturday at the Springfield Invitational at Springfield High School.

Over 550 cheerleaders on 37 different teams attended the competition Jan. 18.

The teams were divided into two sessions, an All-Star session and a High School session.

Competitors were judged on a wide variety of measures, including jumping, tumbling, dancing, stunting, timing, synchronization and choreography.

In the morning, the All-Star teams competed, including 12 all-girl teams and one co-ed team.

The All-Star division is for cheer squads not associated with a school or club and whose ages can range from 4 to 18.

In the All-Star session, the Sweet Home Junior Cheer team won the grand championship trophy.

After the All-Star competition, 24 different teams competed in the High School session- the division for high school sponsored cheer squads.

In the end, Klamath Union High School finished on top, winning the grand championship.

Elise Rico, a senior cheerleader and the captain of Klamath Union, said, "We've never been grand champs before. We have dealt with people quitting on the team, and it feels amazing to be the champs."

Paulette Rico, head coach of Klamath Union, said she was thrilled with her team's performance.

"This was beyond fantastic," Rico said. "These girls worked so hard."

Midway through the Springfield Invitational, the University of Oregon Cheer and Dance Squad surprised the younger cheerleaders, receiving a loud and prolonged applause after their performance.

Janet Fryback, the head coach of the Springfield Varsity Cheer Team, organized the Invitational.

Fryback said the event is one of the main fundraisers for the Springfield cheer program.

"This event is a lot of work for us, but it's a fundraiser and it helps fund our program," Fryback said. "We need money to pay for everything because we're not receiving it from anyone else."

Fryback was happy with her team's performance.

"We had some stunting issues, but I think they did well," Fryback said. "We have to keep working to get ready for state."

Most teams that competed Saturday are now looking ahead to the 2014 OSAA State Cheerleading championships Feb. 15 at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Ore.