Patriots come up big at state drill competition

April 2, 2015

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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Patriots pick up two state titles, while Highlander earns top-three in drill down

Contributed The Liberty High School drill team surrounds its new hardware after winning two state titles at the 2015 state championship March 27 at the Yakima Valley SunDome.

The Liberty High School drill team surrounds its new hardware after winning two state titles at the 2015 state championship March 27 at the Yakima Valley SunDome.

The Liberty High School drill team went into the March 27 state competition with few expectations.

Sure, they thought, it would be nice to place in the top two of the military and kick categories, but realistically, they hadn’t seen many of their competitors, so the squad was unsure where it stood in the pecking order.

After a tumultuous three years that saw three different coaches filter in and out of the program, the Liberty drill team gave what captains called their “best performance ever,” capturing two state titles in the March 27 competition held at the Yakima Valley SunDome.

The performances weren’t perfect, junior captain Amanda Roberts admitted, but it didn’t take away from the thrill of hearing the Patriots’ name called twice.

“We had just won not one, but two state titles, something that I’m pretty sure has never happened in Liberty history,” she said of the moment the awards were announced. “We all were incredibly proud of ourselves and filled with joy.”

Liberty took first place in the kick category with a “superior” rating of 271.7, while a score of 240.15 was enough to capture the 1A/2A military title.

The trip to Yakima was an amazing experience, made more so by a team that is closer and more polished than ever, senior captain Mikayla Nudelman said.

“Knowing that all our hard work and the time we’ve put into drill has paid off is an unexplainable feeling,” Nudelman said. “Each girl has sacrificed a lot for the team, so getting these two trophies just makes all the ups and downs worth it.”

Nudelman said the team’s performances were “disciplined,” leading to some of the highest scores in school history.

“Our Cheshire cat-themed kick routine was high energy, exciting and honestly, pretty adorable with our cat ears and tails. Our military routine was intense, difficult and had lots of tricks and lifts,” Nudelman said.

Hard work, sacrifice and dedication defined this year’s 18-member drill team, Roberts said, thanks mostly to the positive influence of coach Lindsay Starr, who along with assistant coach Sydnee Williams, led the squad to its historic year.

“She pushed us to our limits and made us feel like a real, united team,” Roberts said of Starr. “These wins were just the cherry on top of an amazing year that has shaped a completely new drill program that will lead us into the future.”

Nudelman agreed, crediting Starr for bringing the team together.

“Starting the year off with a new coach, we were headed in a completely different direction, and we trusted her to lead us to where we are,” Nudelman said. “Between summer to now, our team has transformed into a unified entity, something we have never been before.”

The Liberty High School community is known for the passion it displays toward its extracurricular teams and activities, but for some reason, it hasn’t similarly supported the Patriots drill team, Roberts said.

She’s hoping a little hardware will change that.

“For years, the Liberty community and students have never really thought much of drill. We were always just kind of there,” she said. “We were always put as last priority for practice space and things like that.

“Finally, these wins show people that we are a Liberty sport to pay attention to. We are hoping to get the respect that we deserve for working so hard.”

Leilani Bruce, Lilli Donahoe, Hannah Fadler, Emily Rutherford, Sami Galluzzo, Alex White, Lindsey Williams, Riley Wigen, Hanna Warmenhoven, Zoe Herrild, Madison Brenden, Erika Kahler, Theresa Nguyen, Laura Suddock, Ali Whittles, Nudelman, Maddie Lam and Roberts make up the 18-member drill team.

Nudelman, Roberts and Nguyen are captains.

Hazen comes up short of four-peat

Contributed The Hazen High School drill team gathers for a group shot after performing at the 2015 state championship March 27.

The Hazen High School drill team gathers for a group shot after performing at the 2015 state championship March 27.

For the first time in three years, the Hazen High School drill team returned home without a state title, but you won’t find the Highlanders hanging their heads.

They put up some of their best scores of the year in Yakima, and even though it didn’t result in the top spots, co-coach Victoria Hupf said she was proud of the improvement her team showed.

“In both routines, you could tell the girls gave their all, and they felt really good about themselves and the performances they put on when they stepped off the floor,” she said.

Hazen competed in both the 3A pom and military categories. The Highlanders earned third place in pom with an “exceptional” score of 254.3.

Driller My Nguyen earned some individual recognition, after placing third in the drill down competition, beating out a loaded field of her competitors.

“This young lady, after an extremely long and hard day, was able to go out there and focus 100 percent on the task at hand,” Hazen co-coach Evelyn Turner said. “She exercised the discipline and handwork that Hazen Drill stands for and for that, I could not be more proud.”

Drill is by no means an easy sport, Hupf added. Hazen practices and competes nearly year-round.

In addition to early morning practices held almost daily, they also perform at school events and find time to give back to the community, as they did when they volunteered at the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure.

“Every day, I am in awe of what these girls have been able to accomplish over the course of the year,” Hupf said, “and it has been an absolute privilege to have had the opportunity to help coach them this year.”

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