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Plainedge cheered up by first county cheerleading crown

Plainedge celebrates after winning the Nassau Division

Plainedge celebrates after winning the Nassau Division I Large Schools cheerleading championship at Wantagh on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016. Credit: Richard T. Slattery

Recognition by the state has provided varsity cheerleading with a long list of deserving perks. For Plainedge, this list included a second chance.

In previous years for Long Island cheerleading teams, the typical season ended with the national tournament in Orlando, Florida. The Red Devils didn’t have their best performance at the sport’s biggest event two weeks ago, but with state rules and regulations going into effect this year, the frustration didn’t last long.

At the inaugural Nassau cheerleading championships at Wantagh Sunday, Plainedge had its shot at redemption and didn’t disappoint.

“They were simply incredible” first-year coach Amanda Shirreffs said of her team’s county-winning performance in Large Varsity Division I. “They didn’t crack under the pressure, and to just know that we’re the first Nassau County champion, it’s an absolutely amazing feeling. In my first year as varsity coach, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. They gave me everything they had.”

The Plainedge cheerleaders channeled their disappointment over the national tournament into motivation during the practice week leading up to the county meet.

“I think that everyone was a little discouraged after nationals,” senior Gabby Boneville said. “We didn’t do as well as we wanted to. But we worked really hard since then to try and redeem ourselves and show everyone that we could do it. And we did.”

And now they will be heading to Onondaga Community College in Syracuse for the first state tournament on March 5.

“We worked really hard all season,” senior Nicole Crish said. “So it feels really good to have a title that we worked so hard for.”

Bethpage, winner of the Large Varsity Division II crown, is also headed upstate.

“This year we have a brand new team and they’ve been fighting all season to make history,” said Christa Spano, who coaches Bethpage along with Jessica Lundberg. “I think they were excited to be here and their energy definitely showed on the mat.”

Valley Stream North claimed the Co-Ed Division title, and Clarke finished first in Small Varsity Division II to punch its ticket to Syracuse.

“We were so happy that things worked out for us today,” coach Nicole DiMarco said, “and that they we’ll be representing Nassau at states for the first time.”

DiMarco was tasked with calling up each of her cheerleaders so they could accept their plaques.

“I was ready to cry during the whole thing,” DiMarco said with a laugh. “It was just amazing that I could get through it, honestly. I’m just so proud of this group.”

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