TWIN FALLS — The best performances are seamless.

The perfect cheer routine doesn’t show the stress of the sport. The flips and tricks look easy because of the wide smiles on the cheerleaders faces.

The Oakley High School cheer team won the 2A Overall Team Award for the second year in a row at the Idaho State Cheer Championship on Saturday at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa.

The team is a mishmash of students devoted to different sports and different activities that all manage to come together for this event, said Tanette McKee, one of the cheer coaches. The team had something to prove in defending their title.

“The theme of this year is that we’re unstoppable,” McKee said. “It’s all about hitting every motion and not just going through them.”

Oakley senior Trinity Thompson said that the win still feels unreal.

“Our team had to be aggressively sharp,” said Merisol Whittle, a junior on the Oakley cheer team said.

Competitive cheer consists of different categories that the teams participate in — including pom, stunt work and sideline, which demonstrates the team’s abilities to excite the crowd. One thing is evident with every performance: perfection is required.

“We condition and work as hard as any other athlete,” Armando Zavala said. “Looks are deceiving. We want all of the hard work and energy to look easy.”

The moves are sharp and precise; they border on militaristic, said Zavala, a senior on the Minico High School cheer team. They devote hours of their week to perfection, he said. All of the work is worth it for the yearly competition to show off their craft.

“We work ourselves for that perfection,” Zavala said. “We devote ourselves to it. It’s only for a moment. It’s nice to see people here who care about that.”

The key to these precise movements is simple: practice, practice and more practice, said Arika Phipp a coach for the Minico cheer team. The team faced hiccups, with team members leaving earlier in the week and having to rearrange the choreographed routines, she said. But the team managed to win first place in the 4A Stunt All-Girl category.

The Burley High School cheer team didn’t compete last year after several members were removed from the team, said Talisity Sanchez, a senior at Burley High School and co-captain of the team.

The team came back together this year for the competition, said co-captain Gracie Hutchison. They managed to place second in the 4A Stunt All-Girl category.

“I’m really proud,” Hutchison said. “I don’t think people were expecting us to get this far.”

“I’m glad we got to do this one last time,” Sanchez said. “We’ve cheered together since seventh grade.”

The Cheer State Championship is a culmination of a year of work. These teams only have one shot to show their stuff, which can be daunting for beginners, said Kimra Arnell, a freshman on the Oakley cheer team. Without the safety net of a do-over, the teams rise to the occasion.

“We don’t have second chances,” Arnell said. “We have one time and one chance.”

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