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Salute to the Champs: Farmingdale wins first state title

Picture of the Farmingdale cheerleading team after competing

Picture of the Farmingdale cheerleading team after competing in the New York State Public High School cheerleading championships in Rochester on March 7, 2020. Credit: Mike Heath

The new kids in town are now the best in the state.

Three years after starting a competitive cheerleading program, and in just its second year at the varsity level, Farmingdale captured its first state championship at the Rochester Institute of Technology on March 7, winning Division I large with 89.98 points.

Senior Kiersten Hacker called the moment “a dream come true,” standing on the edge of the mat, surrounded by her teammates.

“After we won we were all like, ‘Wow, this doesn’t even feel real,’” Hacker said. “It was the most amazing feeling. We kept looking down at our medals, like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe this.’ ”

Coach Caitlin Weinsheimer added that, while the Dalers were confident they could compete at states, winning left the team in “complete and utter shock.”

“We knew that we were going against some really well-established programs that were also very highly skilled,” Weinsheimer said. “So we were completely shocked.”

With 12 seniors on this year’s team, many of the Dalers had been instrumental in building the program. They attended school board and Board of Education meetings, posted an undefeated JV record in their first season, and helped ensure that, this February, Farmingdale could compete in the National High School Cheerleading Championships at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

It was a long road, but Hacker said the Dalers got a big-time confidence boost when they clinched the Nassau county title on March 1.

Farmingdale’s 90.05 score was the highest it posted all season.

“We wanted that county championship,” Hacker said. “We felt the energy, we knew we had a great performance. All the hard work, all the extra practice, it was worth it.”

Buoyed by one championship, the Dalers went into the state competition ready to excel, but Weinsheimer conceded there wasn’t much pressure or an emphasis on finishing first. Instead, she said she told the team to “have a good time and do their best.”

“Just take in everything, because this the last opportunity we were going to have with each other,” Weinsheimer said. “I think, because I didn’t put any pressure on them, from my standpoint as a coach, they were able to do their absolute best and really thrive in the moment.”

Farmingdale did more than thrive.

In third after the preliminary round, the Dalers approached the finals the same way they had any other routine. They were determined, they were ready, and they wanted to have some fun.

Farmingdale executed its routine to near perfection, highlighted by its opening stunt, and showcased the team’s cohesion, a product of competing together since the program began.

“I’ve had the same team for three years,” Weinsheimer said. “I knew that we had a very good team and that I had some really great athletes.”

Although they might not have expected a state title this season, the Dalers are now anxious to use it as a building block, ready to keep proving themselves every time they take the mat.

“We want to keep going and get this team to go so far,” Hacker said. “It’s something we’re so happy to have achieved.”

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