Nerves of steel.
The idiom amply describes the Rocky Point cheerleading crew. The Eagles took to the mat Saturday night with broad smiles, a ferocious crowd chant and not a hair out of place.
The Eagles won first place in Medium D2 in the final Suffolk County Cheerleading Competition at Hauppauge, completing an undefeated season for the second year in a row.
“This team definitely gets more excited than nervous,” Gina Tolisano said.
“The best part isn’t even winning,” Hayley Nofi said. “The best part is that we hit each time. It gives us so much confidence and the more confidence we have, the more we can achieve.”
The Eagles list of achievements is long. Besides two straight years of being undefeated, at the Sachem North meet on Jan. 26 the team earned a 97, the highest score of the county.
Although they were undefeated last year, their performances did include some falls. This year, however, the girls have had none.
“Last year we won but our hits weren’t perfect,” Samantha Ferrara said. “We had falls but this year we’ve been hitting and winning which is a better accomplishment. We know we did our best and our best is hitting our stunts.”
This meet, which earned the Eagles a 95.3, was no different. They hit every stunt with barely a shake. Each move, according to the Eagles, is second nature.
“We’re confident about all our stunts,” Kim Casey said. “There isn’t single stunt where we say we have to be careful with this.”
The girls are bringing that same confidence into the County Championship to be held on Feb. 16 at Centereach and, most importantly, the National High School Cheerleading Championship on Feb. 8 in Orlando, Florida,
The crew aren’t strangers to Nationals but this year they are looking to bring home the crown.
When asked if the girls were nervous, they all gave a resounding “No!”
“We used to be crazy nervous now we’re so calm,” Nofi said.
Casey added, “It’s just fun at this point.”
Smithtown East grabs win in Small D1
It’s been a back and forth battle between Smithtown West and Smithtown East in Small D1. Out of the six meets, West won three and East won two, with Riverhead winning one of the matches.
On Saturday, it seemed like either West or East could take the last win of the regular season.
The judges ran with the Bulls as Smithtown East came in first.
“We have a healthy rivalry,” Emma Willman said. “It’s good to have competition. It keeps us motivated.”
The girls had plenty of motivation heading onto the mat. They stuck their performance, including the difficult high-to-high stunt and a 540 spin in the beginning of their routine. Once they hit that, it was smooth sailing.
“We’ve been struggling with that move all week,” Julia Rooney said. “Today when we hit it, everything else felt so easy.”
The Bulls will be riding that feeling all the way to Nationals. For them, ending on top was just the boost they needed.
“Wining today just gives us so much more confidence,” Rooney said. “Leaving Long Island with a hit lets us know that we can hit at Nationals.”
Marlaina Alma added, “We’re not looking to be the best, we just want to do our best. Just go out there and run with the Bulls.”