By Garrett Mitchell
The Woodruff competitive cheerleading team has enjoyed a renaissance season, punctuated by multiple competition victories and a belief that a state championship is within reach.
Led by a mix of senior leaders and youthful exuberance, the Lady Wolverine cheerleaders are entering the final phase of their competition schedule breaming with confidence. It is a combination of talent and an ability to keep their routines fresh that head coach Erika Rodgers says had led to such a successful season.
“So far we have changed the routine in every single competition,” Rodgers said. “Some of it is from injuries and some for improvements. We actually have plans to continue changing it so we just try to evolve with each competition. We hope it keeps us up there at the top.”
Rodgers noted that her team has shown a resilient nature all season, battling through injuries and adversity to find success. That, she says, shows the high character and work ethic of her cheerleaders.
“We’ve had a lot of success but it hasn’t been without its bumps along the way,” Rodgers said. “We have worked hard to overcome a lot of different injuries and a lot of things that have gotten in the way of us being at our very best. It hasn’t been easy but we are working hard to peak at the end of the season.”
To date, the Lady Wolverines have won three competitions with multiple top five finishes in others. Woodruff took home first place honors in the Class 3A division of competitions at Northwestern, Belton-Honea Path, and at the Cavalier Cheer Invitational, held at Dorman High School
“We’ve got three victories under our wing and it’s just been really great to be a part of this team because we’ve really competed as a team,” said senior Bethany Davis. “We really build each other up.”
One of the younger understudies on the squad, freshman Dayuna Shelton, said she has enjoyed becoming an integral part of the team’s success in her first year of varsity competition.
“Coming onto the team, I have seen a major difference between this season and last season. Last season I felt like we were a lot more separated. It was more competing against each other and this year we have worked a lot more as a team. We are just improving and growing in that way.”
Shelton added that it is a belief that they can win, which drives the Lady Wolverines every time they step onto the mat.
“We prove to ourselves and to our fans and fellow competitors that we can do this and we are stronger than they think we are,” she added.
Up next for Woodruff will be the state qualifying competition to earn their way to the state championship meet in Columbia later this month. Davis, who says that the energy of the team is a major strength, knows she and her teammates must keep improving to bring home a state championship.
“All of the teams like to watch us because we are really energetic,” Davis said.
Rodgers knows the team will face tough competition from this point forward, adding that the Lady Wolverines will have to perform at their very best.
“We’ve got tough competition in our division,” she said. “At the state championship qualifier, we will see all of the teams we would see at state. Hopefully we do well and we can see about where we need to be scoring and placing. We’ve got several really good teams in this division. We are working really hard to keep up and finish as high as we can.”