Cara Gauvin played the odds and it paid off nicely for the Rutland High School cheerleading team.
The Raiders’ longtime coach knew the playing field shifted a little when a new scoring rubric was introduced this season and she was determined to strike a balance between showcasing all of the the skills her team was capable of doing and what they could reasonably expect to be able to do under the spotlight of state championship competition.
Gauvin and her talent troupe of tumblers and walked that fine line to perfection at the Vermont Principals’ Associations state championships Saturday at Vergennes Union High School, winning their seventh Division I state title with relative ease.
“When the rubric (the scoring guidelines) changed this year, it became a lot more difficult to score higher numbers,” said Gauvin. “So we worked hard on bringing difficulties into our routine because if you can nail it, no one can beat you.
“However, it’s a risk-reward thing and we made some modifications in terms of how much risk we were willing to take in order that we could still stick the routine. The girls did super good. I’m really proud of them,” said Gauvin, whose team scored 181 points, 12 ahead of BFA-St. Albans and 22 in front of two-time defending champion Essex, which placed third.
In Division II, Mount Anthony took home just its second title and the first since 1987, scoring 108 points to finish 10 points ahead of Mount St. Joseph’s and 20 in front of Mount Abraham.
“I’m overwhelmed,” said first-year varsity coach Tiffany Hall. “I feel like we accomplished our goals we laid out at the beginning of the season and then some. I’m very proud of all of my girls and they overcame some obstacles early in the season — injuries and the like — that really affected one of our stunt groups and they put that behind them and really came on at the end of the season when they needed to.”
Hall praised her team Patriots’ ability to focus on their strengths as the key to their title run.
“We had a really clean routine today,” said Hall, whose previous coaching experience was as a co-coach of the Mount Anthony middle school cheer team last season. “We know we lack some gymnastic ability, but we try to make up for that in other areas we know we have strength and to use those strengths to the best of our ability.
“We were really excited to hear our name called at the end,” said Hall.
In addition to their state championships, Rutland and Mount Anthony also earned berths in the New England Championships on March 16 in Lawrence, Mass. The teams will compete in the Division 2 all-girl portion of that event.
Essex earned a spot in the Division 1 all-girl portion of the New England competition, Mount Abe qualified to compete in the Division 3 all-girl competition, MSJ earned a berth in the Division 4 all-girl competition. BFA-St. Albans will compete in the co-ed division.