Hawaii All-Star Cheerleaders Sweep Titles at Anaheim
By Rodney S. Yap
In the end, the cheers that shook the Anaheim Convention Center were for the Hawaii All-Star Cheerleaders.
Not once, not twice, but three times the announcer read: “And the winner is . . . Hawaii All-Star Cheerleaders!”
It was that kind of day, Sunday, March 24, at the 18th Annual United Spirit Association All-Star Championships in Southern California, where 54 Maui athletes, 3 coaches and 17 other friends and family members represented the 50th state with smiles on their faces and hearts full of aloha.
The hours, days and months of preparation the participating athletes experienced leading up to that final announcement was the ultimate reward for the Hawaii All-Star Cheerleaders in Level 2 Juniors, Level 3 Senior Coed, and Level 4 Seniors.
“I’ve had some big championships over the course of my career, but never like this,” said Kealii Molina, the founder and head coach of the Hawaii All-Star Cheerleaders.
“This is way bigger than last year,” the coach said, referring to the two titles the squad defended from a year ago and the new Level 2 Juniors hardware the team returned to Maui with Monday. “When they were giving out the awards, it was Hawaii All-Stars . . . Hawaii All-Stars . . . Hawaii All-Stars, just one right after the other.”
Molina’s next task will be to build a trophy case at the team’s Wakea Avenue headquarters big enough for the five national championships and one grand championship the squad earned on the mainland over its spring break. The team was primed for victory having won Level 3 Senior Coed and Level 4 Seniors at the JAMfest Cheer Nationals in Long Beach, Calif., the week before, March 16-17.
More than 100 family members and friends waited patiently at the bottom of the Kahului Airport security gate when the team arrived from Los Angeles at 6:10 p.m. The athletes and coaches took official team photos with their trophies and banners in the lobby fronting Gate 25 before making their way to the baggage claim.
“It was just an amazing feeling, we gave it our all,” said Kennedy Casco of the Level 4 Senior team. “Everyone was more prepared this year, because we knew what it was like from last year. We knew what we had to do and we just nailed it. It was our absolute best ever performance.”
And it couldn’t have come at a better time.
In addition to its all-star division titles, the USA competition committee handed out four paid bids and 17 at-large bids to The Summit National Championships, May 4-5, at the Walt Disney World Resort’s ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla.
Molina made it clear prior to leaving for California that the Hawaii All-Star Cheerleaders needed to earn three of the four paid bids at the USA competition if they had any chance of attending the inaugural event.
“We simply can not afford to go if we have to pay,” Molina said.
After a “shaky” showing in the prelims on Saturday, March 23, the Hawaii All-Star Cheerleaders bounced back with flawless routines on Sunday, March 24. All three squads suffered zero point deductions on the judges scorecards.
“The second day was crazy,” Molina said. “I have never seen our Senior 4 perform like that. Every team stuck it, we had zero deductions on the second day, not one mistake. . . . When we needed to hit it, we hit it.”
As a result of HASC’s second-day performances, both the Level 2 Juniors and the Level 4 Seniors were awarded paid bids.
Hawaii All-Star Cheer won the Level 2 Juniors with a two-day total of 95.63 points. Pacific Coast Magic-Inspire was second with 94.86. HASC’s Level 3 Seniors had 93.97 points, followed by CheerForce-Rockstarz’ 91.14, and the Level 4 Seniors scored 95.85 points, while OC All Stars-Sparkle was next with 94.54.
“The boys did really well for their first time,” Molina added. “Senior 3 did amazing, the only knock was they did not get the bid. There are some politics that go on in the sport and there are people who play the game and do things a little bit different than we do it here. They do things to get bids and that’s how the Seniors got bumped out. They definitely deserved a bid.”
Baldwin High School senior Sierra Ignacio is the Flyer, the person at the top of the pyramid or stunt, on the Level 4 Senior team. She said all the performances leading up to the finals — at the Showoffs on Maui and the JAMFest at Long Beach — gave the teams the confidence they needed to execute without fault.
“It was amazing to finally hit that perfect routine,” said Ignacio, who is hoping to earn a cheer scholarship to attend Hawaii Pacific University next year. “Being in the mainland, in a big arena, with a bunch of people and teams you have no idea who they are and yet they are still supporting you because you’re from Hawaii is an awesome experience.”
The Hawaii All-Star Cheerleaders leave Thursday for Oahu to compete at the Aloha International Spirit Championships, March 29-30, at the Waikiki Shell.
Assistant coach for the Senior teams was Jo-Ann Yap, while Kealani Castro helped coach the Junior team.
Members of the Hawaii All-Star Cheer Level 4 Senior team are: Krysta Freitas,Chalysse Young U’u, Breeann Joaquin, Kealani Castro, and Kimber Kauhaahaa Sulsi, Ashley Tanga, Caitlin Villarosa, Ashlee Sawai, Jayna “Kalei” Kamalii, Tatiana Thompson, Elysse Phillips, Aileen Rodriguez, Mariah Constantino, Sierra Ignacio, Kauanoe Keahi, Kayla Sniffen, Maikela Takamiya, and Kennedy Casco.
Members of the Hawaii All-Star Level 3 Senior Coed team are: Chloe Lawrence, Janessa Miguel, Krysta Freitas, Chalysse Young U’u, Hannah Patrick, Bryson Barron, Mishalei Coloma Mariano, Ashlee Sawai, Taylor “Nani” Rabarra, Kealani Castro, Shayla Domingo, Acacia Coloma Mariano, Jayvee Quiocho, Laurell Malaqui Sanchez, Kaulana Bangolan, Ponia Matsumoto, Caitlin Villarosa, Chaston Abut, Ashley Watson, Mikela Rinlisbacher, Tiffany Tamashiro, Kayla Sniffen, Naomi Ellison, Tyler Rabarra, Madison Rose Strahan, and Kellie Furtado.
Members of the Hawaii All-Star Cheer Level 2 Junior team are: Mishalei Coloma Mariano, Chloe Lawrence, Asia Flores, Sheryl Lapid Fitzsimmons, Chelsea Sarmiento, Khelsea Sarmiento, Lindsey Saludares, Chyanne Barretto, Makenna Sumbicay, Lea Kashiwamura, Makayla Alexander, Kaella Yasui, Lily Katz, Roxan Alforque, Clouie Saluacup, Jurnie Kawai, Lydel Salvador, Shae-La Fernandez.
A paid bid to attend The Summit is valued at $510 per athlete, according to event organizers from Varsity All Star. The travel package includes everything but airfare: 4 nights hotel, 4-day Walt Disney World Pass, 3 days admission to ESPN complex, bus transportation to all scheduled events, transportation to/from airport, and the Celebration Party.
The two-day competition will feature 450 partial-paid and at-large bids to the best teams from across the country in Youth, Junior and Senior Levels in non-Worlds divisions to face-off in a live competition, broadcast worldwide on Varsity TV.