Ward Melville’s week began with bruises and broken bones. It ended with the Patriots lifting a first-place trophy.
The Patriots won the Division I Large Schools competition at the Smithtown West Cheerleading Invitational Saturday morning, overcoming a stream of injuries in the process. Seaford took first among Division II Large Schools, and Miller Place won the Division II Small School competition.
“We’ve been through so much this week,” Kaitlyn Wilson said. “This feels so good because we had to work really hard for it.”
“Even this morning, we actually had an injury,” Kelly Deegan said. “It’s a really great feeling that even after all this we could pull through as a team. It’s a big confidence boost.”
In taking first, Ward Melville edged St. John the Baptist, which came in second, and Connetquot, which finished third.
“They dealt with a lot this week, they pulled through and I’m very proud of them,” Patriots coach Christine Perretta said. “The win means a lot right now, because of what they’re going through. They’re amazing.”
Deegan and Wilson said the week’s unique circumstances brought the team closer together, and showed their perseverance.
“The most challenging part was switching the routine around, but it was a beneficial thing because it made us pull through as a team and realize how close we are,” Deegan said.
“We all just work together so well,” Wilson said. “If something goes wrong, it’s OK, we’ll just build from there. We all came together as one and it paid off, clearly.”
Perretta said the Patriots are also adjusting to a new division and squad size, after spending last year in the Super Large School division.
“This will make them work harder,” she added of the win on Saturday. “They know they can do it now, so they’re going to try to keep doing it.”
Said Wilson: “We’re ready to kill it in the next few competitions. We’re ready to go. This proved we’re here, we’re Ward Melville, and we got this.”
Seaford was also dealing with the injury bug, and was missing a flyer and two back-slots.
“It hasn’t been the easiest start to the season, but they’re so determined and motivated and I’m very proud,” Vikings coach Lisa Ferrari said. “It’s been a lot of hard work.”
“We stayed positive and stayed together,” Anna Gagliano said.
Tiffany Casella said the victory was even sweeter in light of the improvements the team has made since the start of the season.
“It was such a feeling of satisfaction when we were on the mat and we heard our name,” she said of the award presentation. “Our hard work paid off.”
“We’re going to push ourselves going forward,” Ferrari said. “It’s all about focus and getting to hit harder stunts, focusing on what we already have down, changing the things we need to improve on, and staying motivated and determined.”
“We want to keep this win in the back of our minds,” Casella said. “And we’re going to keep pushing forward.”