Hartland’s competitive cheer team has been a traditional participant in the Division 1 state meet over the years.
This year, the Eagles think they have a great chance to bring home a trophy for the first time.
“The girls really want it,” first-year coach Lizzie Nash said Thursday. “They really want to win. It all comes down to whoever does the best that day, but I think we can totally do it.”
Amanda Colquitt, one of 10 Hartland seniors, agrees.
“We’re all on the same page,” she said. “At practice, there have been days in the past when people just wanted to fool around in practice, but this year’s group is always ready when practice begins.
“No one second-guesses each other,” she added. “Some years there has been a lot of fighting on the team, but this year there’s not much fighting at all.”
The Eagles won their district and finished third at last week’s regional. Grand Blanc and Livonia Stevenson, each making their first trip to the finals, are there along with traditional powers Grandville and Rochester. Lake Orion, Rochester Stoney Creek and Sterling Heights Stevenson round out the field.
Nash, who works at Hartland’s Legacy School, has enlisted her predecessors as coach, Amanda Adkins and Paula Cunningham, as assistants.
“They know so much about the program,” Nash said. “They know what makes the girls tick and help me be the best coach I can be. Their knowledge is invaluable and I’m thankful they’re here to help.”
Jenna Seychel, who has gone to the state meet in each of her four years on the team, says going to Grand Rapids never gets old.
“Every time, it’s exciting,” she said. “Every year’s different. I think if we win this year it would be a great accomplishment, because we’ve fought so hard and come so far.”
Colquitt says the Eagles will need to come out strong at the start.
“We have to go in there thinking like we’re performing on our own mat,” she said. “Our round one (of three) has been our weakest round until this year, and we’ve come a long way.”
Nash, meanwhile, says her girls’ previous experience should serve them well tonight.
“You have to worry about yourselves and focus on performing to the best of your ability,” she said. “We’ve competed against these teams (in the finals) all year, and I think that’s really helped us understand what it’s like to go against the top teams. But we’re focusing on us. I want to make sure the girls are confident, excited, and ready to go.”
“We have to go out there and perform,” Seychel said. “We know what to do. We have to go out and give all we have and show what we’ve worked for.”
The Eagles leave at 9:30 a.m., and after a team breakfast will make the drive to Grand Rapids. They’ll have a workout at West Catholic High School, courtesy of a parent who’s an alum (”It’s super nice of them,” she said) and get to the DeltaPlex in plenty of time for the meet.
Nash, a Northville grad is in her first year of varsity coaching at Hartland and second overall, having worked with the Northville JV team last year.
“It’s been crazy, but it’s been good,” she said. “It’s been a good year.”
“She’s really open to ideas and upbeat, always positive,” Colquitt said of her coach. “She’s open to any suggestions.”
Seychel says her team’s close bond has helped, too.
“We really came together this year,” she said. “Everyone calls their team a family, but it really is like a family when you’ve been with these girls for nine months.”
STATE CHEER MEET
■WHAT: Division 1 competitive cheer state meet
■WHERE: DeltaPlex, Grand Rapids
■WHEN: 6 p.m.
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