West Babylon cheerleading’s season may have been filled with “blood, sweat and tears,” but Saturday afternoon, there were only tears of joy.
The Eagles won their first county title, in Large Division I, at the Suffolk Cheerleading Championships at Longwood High School.
Rocky Point, Mount Sinai and Babylon repeated as the winners of the Small Division I, Large Division II and Small Division II sections, respectively. The four schools advance to state championships, beginning March 4 in Syracuse, which will cap cheerleading’s second season as a state-sanctioned varsity sport.
“It’s been rough. Between injuries, sicknesses, blood, sweat and tears, we’ve been through everything but we all pulled through,” West Babylon’s Britney Jahrmarkt said.
“My heart dropped when I heard our name announced and we won,” said Aleksandra Strzala. “I didn’t know what to think. I’m just so thankful for my last year cheering,”
West Babylon edged second-place Connetquot to finish on top of the four-team field in its section.
“It’s like a dream,” said Kaylee Ribaudo. “But we’ve worked our butts off for this and I’m so proud of my team.”
Mount Sinai, the county’s lone Large Division II team, will be returning to the state tournament where it became the first Long Island school to win a title.
“We had a few rough patches this year but we made it through and we came out on top,” said Samantha Feeney.
“We just had to get the new girls used to competing at a high level,” said Sydnee Meyer. The Mustangs replaced 11 cheerleaders from last year’s championship team and had a coaching change in the beginning of the season.
“It was a hard transition at first,” Alexa Diamond said. “We didn’t really have a foundation early on, but once we became a team, we really got going.”
In the day’s final section, seniors Morganne Nofi, Brittany Reh, Kristin Flatley and Bailey Klein powered Rocky point.
“We really hit our routine with energy and power,” Nofi said. “No one can beat that.”
The Eagles had the top score in their 12-team section, beating out runner-up Smithtown East, and will now look to build on their third-place finish from last year’s state tournament.
“We just have to do exactly what we did today,” Flatley said. “We have to stay focused.”
“We’re going to go out and jump our hearts out,” Klein said. “Wearing ‘Eagles’ across my chest one last time is going to be amazing.”
Babylon will also be going back upstate after topping the four teams in the Small Division II section. Sayville took second.
“We definitely wanted to show that we could do it again,” said Kathryn DiSanti. “We wanted to prove we still have it.”
“It’s really an honor to get this two years in a row, especially in the first two years it’s ever happened,” Alexandra Singleton said.
“We had an insane week of practice but we knew in the end it would be worth it,” said Christina Cappello. “And it was.”