Rifle cheerleaders win big at NCA camp
Competing at the National Cheerleaders Association camp at Glenwood Springs High School last weekend, the Rifle Bears cheerleading team, under the direction of first-year head coach Valentina Epps, brought home multiple team awards — as well as individual awards — for the first time in the past decade.
At the NCA camp, Rifle saw six cheerleaders nominated for National Cheerleaders All-American honors, with three of them winning individual honors for the Bears for the first time in 27 years, according to Epps.
Seniors Kylee West and Ellie Groves, as well as junior Sophia Langhorne took home the individual honors for the Bears, but it was West who raised the bar for Rifle cheerleading, winning the program’s first-ever Top All-American honor for NCA.
“It was just amazing,” Epps said. “We’ve never had that happen before with our program, so it shows how hard the girls have worked this spring and summer.”
Heading into the camp, the Rifle cheerleading program hadn’t won any hardware in the last 8-10 years, according to Epps, but at the NCA camp, Rifle brought home two team trophies, winning the Performance Top Team trophy for their routine, which is awarded to the squad that exemplifies the best cheerleading technique, skill incorporation and ability.
Teams that win this award have the opportunity to travel to an NCA special event. Rifle also won the NCA Champion Chant trophy for their cheers.
On top of the two trophies, the Bears came home with the NCA Spirit Megaphone, which is voted on by all of the campers to reflect the squad that best epitomizes spirit.
Pairing with the Spirit Megaphone, Rifle claimed one of two Spirit Sticks handed out at the end of camp, which are given to the teams that have the best leader and work the hardest at the camp.
Rifle wrapped up the camp by earning three superior ribbons and one excellent ribbon during performance evaluation.
“The great thing about the girls’ performance was that roughly half of the team is brand new,” Epps, who took over in March prior to tryouts, said. “We had eight girls with experience return this year, but nearly half of the team we took to the camp is brand new to the program. That’s pretty special for this program to accomplish all that they did at the camp with a relatively new group.”
Due to their performance at the NCA camp, Rifle won a bid to compete at the National Cheerleaders Association high school nationals Jan. 27-28 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas.
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Rifle High School wrestling won its matchup with Glenwood Springs Tuesday at the Glenwood triangular, while the Palisade Bulldogs took down both local teams.