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Smithtown East cheer squad dedicates win to Paige Keely

The team wears pink ribbons, honoring the 6-year-old who died this week from a rare brain condition.

The Smithtown East varsity cheerleaders placed first in

The Smithtown East varsity cheerleaders placed first in the first section of small schools during the 2018 Varsity Cheerleading Competition on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 held at Sachem East High School. Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Something was different about Smithtown East’s cheer outfits Saturday.

Squad members donned their usual crisp white and red uniforms. But the pink bows in their hair? That’s an accessory usually reserved for October.

“We wore pink ribbons in honor of Paige Keely,” Starr Ferrari said. “She recently passed away, so we dedicated our routine to her.”

Keely, from Nissequogue, died Monday from a rare brain condition. The 6-year-old, who often wore a bow in her hair, was honored with more than a routine. Pink was her favorite color, her parents said.

The Bulls also honored Paige on the gym floor, placing first in session one’s Small Division at the Sachem East varsity competition, scoring 84 points and earning their second consecutive first place.

“The win was definitely sweeter,” Gianna Bongiorno said. “Winning two weeks in a row boosts everyone’s self esteem.”

If the Bulls are lacking self-esteem, it didn’t show in their routine. They had a fall early in the performance but the mishap was quickly forgotten.

“How hard we work at practice makes us feel prepared and ready for anything when we are on the mat,” Caroline Loiodice said.

The Bulls stuck their final pyramid and used muletas, the red cloth matadors use in bullfighting, in their team chant.

“This year, personally, is the best year for me being on varsity, our skill level, the team in general,” Ferrari said. “Everyone tries their hardest and it’s great.”

Hauppauge breaks through. In the second Small session, Hauppauge earned its first win in Suffolk competition, scoring 88.25.

“It feels nice to have a win on Long Island and actually hitting everything feels great,” Emily Clackett said.

Hauppauge had no falls, completing all of their stunts with minimal mistakes.

“Hitting our routine felt great and I think we needed this to prepare for the rest of the season,” Samantha Suazo said.

Francesca Capilets continued: “Especially the level of stunt difficulty. We have college-level stunts and it’s hard to hit them but when you do, it’s the best feeling ever.”

Another great feeling: going undefeated.

The Rocky Point squad is on its way to accomplishing that feat after winning a fourth straight competition in the Medium division, scoring 89.8.

“We want to have an undefeated season so badly,” Julieanna Joy said. “We know if we keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll end up on top.”

The Eagles had one fall in an otherwise clean routine.

“Even though we had that little fall, we know we’ll get through the rest of the routine strong,” Lauren Utting said.

Rocky Point, if the streak continues, would be the first team to go undefeated since cheerleading became a sport on Long Island.

“Being undefeated really shows how hard we work and how much time we put in,” Ashley Bayard said.

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