Payson Squad Earns 'Superior' At Usa Cheer Camp

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Proving they are among the best in Arizona, the Payson High School varsity spirit line earned superior evaluations on every competition held at the USA Cheer Camp at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff July 7 to 10.

Superior is the highest grade awarded in three skills the spirit lines were judged on dance routines, cheers and stunting.

The 10-member junior varsity PHS contingent strutted itself to plenty of awards as well winning the camp's most improved trophy.

Because of their outstanding performance in the camp, the entire varsity squad coached by Sandee Koon, Becky Hagler and Paula Whittle qualified to travel to Honolulu next year to perform at the NFL Pro Bowl.

Koon said the invitation was an honor but she was uncertain whether the team could make the trip because the girls would have to earn about $2,000 each to pay expenses.

Individually, sisters Stevi and Alisha Santana earned all-star team honors during a competition held on the final night of camp.

To earn the celestial status, the girls were required to perform a cheer routine they had learned during the camp. Judges graded them on their performances and those who earned the highest scores were tapped as all-stars.

With their naming to the all-star team, the two girls earned prestigious invitations to travel to Paris, France where they would participate in the city's New Year's parade. The sisters will be raising funds, hoping to make the trip abroad.

The "top campers" for outstanding efforts during the stay in Flagstaff went to Heather Schneider and Stevi Santana. The girls' top-flight performances in Flagstaff resulted in camp sponsors asking them to apply to USA Cheer to become instructors at future clinics.

The entire experience in Flagstaff was one that should bode well for the girls next school year, Koon said.

"We came away very united and it was way fun ... a blast," Heather Schneider agreed.

For Koon, who's been the cheer coach the past 14 years, the 2000 school year will represent one last go around.

She's set to step down next spring and will turn the highly successful program over to Hagler and Whittle.

In leaving, Koon said she was deeply appreciative of all those who contributed to the program and the dedicated youngsters who annually try out for the spirit line.

Next up for the Horn crew is a performance in the annual Payson Rodeo Parade which begins at 9 a.m. Aug. 19 on the Beeline Highway.

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