By Thomas Garcia: Quay County Sun
The fourth place Tucumcari Rattlers Cheerleaders were 1.5 points behind third place Texico in the 2A State Spirit Competition in Rio Rancho.
“We did not realize we were so close to beating Texico,” said Rattlers Cheerleader coach Christine Montano.
Montano and the seven member Lady Rattlers fell short of upsetting the 23 member Lady Wolverines.
“We could have beaten Texico,” said Lorri Harman, cheerleader. “That is amazing considering we started out with 17 cheerleaders. As the seasons went by we began to lose people.”
Harman said the narrow margin of loss has breathed new life and fire into the team. She said they have the taste of winning and want more.
“This summer we are going to reach a new level of training,” Harman said. “We are going to attend cheer camps and tumbling workshops.”
This is the highest the Lady Rattlers cheerleaders have finished in the state competition since a third place finish in 2002.
“These girls have come so far,” Montano said. “They placed eighth last year. For them to work so hard and improve so much show just how much they are committed.”
However, this latest victory for the Lady Rattlers at the two-day competition almost did not happen.
“We were late for registration,” said Krista Francis, cheerleader.
Montano said the team showed up at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho to register and attend a mandatory coaches meeting.
“In the previous years the meeting has been at 6 p.m.,” Montano said. “We were walking around at 5:30 and no one was there.”
Montano said she contact the New Mexico Activities Association and was told that the times had been changed. She and the team now had to venture from Rio Rancho to Albuquerque to the NMAA headquarters by 7 p.m., in rush hour traffic.
“I was thinking oh my God we have to make it,” Francis said. “We can’t come all this way to simply go home.”
The team made it to the NMAA headquarters at 6:50 and were able to register before the deadline.
The first day of competition for the Lady Rattlers was trying on their nerves especially newer members like Brook Dow.
“I was watching the other teams compete,” Dow said. “When they made a mistake, I just kept saying to myself don’t make that mistake.”
The team survived and moved onto the second day of competition, where they would have to perform a 2 and a half minute routine.
“We were practicing in the parking lot of the hotel before we left,” Harman said.
Again the Lady Rattlers watched as the other teams compete awaiting their turn. Harman said a crowd of strangers did not bother the team. She said what did weigh on their minds was their family and friends sitting among those strangers.
“It is hard to explain,” said Rhea Jaynes, cheerleader. “It is easier to perform when you don’t know the people looking back at you. I think your afraid of making a mistake and your family and friends seeing that mistake.”
Montano said the team performed amazing and she has high hopes and expectation for the coming year.
“I know they are just as ready as I am,” Montano said. “If we could go right now, we would.”