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Falcons fly to first-ever state title

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By Dan Johnson

In the beginning, the smile didn’t come easy.

Abbie Daurio is by no means an evil girl; quite the contrary, she’s very polite and nice when you talk to her.

But, when she decided to take up cheerleading three years ago, it was the smile that always seemed to trip her up.

“I was focusing so much on getting the routines down that I would always have a hard time with it,” Daurio said.

The smile comes much easier now for Daurio, and, most likely, for the rest of the Front Range Christian School cheer team.

The Falcons recently won the first-ever state title in school history, taking home the Class 2A title two weeks ago.

“At first it was a surreal feeling,” said Daurio, 17, a senior. “We’ve been working on this routine since March and it was so rewarding to have all of our hard work pay off.”

Coach Gina Harris said this year’s routine had a “We’ve Got the Beat” theme, meaning, all the songs used in the routine had the word “beat” in them. Harris said the routine concluded with an energetic dance to “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” from the musical, Hairspray.

“The team initially tried out in the spring,” Harris said. “We worked on skills informally through the spring and summer. They learned the routine at the end of September and during the school year, they practice two to three days a week until 6 p.m.

“In addition, most of the girls take tumbling once a week.”

All the hard work clearly has paid off; not only with the state title, but with all the high placements the Falcons receive at other competitions as well.

“The routine we performed at state would be considered a high level of difficulty for a 2A team,” Harris said. “In previous competitions, we are put in divisions based on the size of the team, not the size of the school. Most often, we compete against 5A schools and we have been successful at placing higher than them in many cases.”

While the girls are well-trained, things haven’t always gone smoothly. In 2006 the team was penalized for a member stepping out of bounds (they finished second) and in 2007, points were deducted for a hair bow falling out. This year, one of the cheerleaders (who was sick all week), stepped out of bounds, but the fault didn’t cost the Falcons, as the team regrouped and performed their routine so well that even with the deduction, had enough points to qualify for the finals.

“If they would have given up after the step off the mat, then there is no way we would have scored high enough to make it to the finals,” Harris said.

The Falcons did win, besting Holyoke to claim the title.

Individual cheerleaders from Front Range Christian are also making their mark on the state level. Last year, Mandy Parker was the only 1A or 2A girl chosen to the All-State Cheerleading Team, and this year, Daurio earned that honor.

“It was definitely something I was striving for,” Daurio said. “I didn’t believe it at first when I heard the news. Three years ago, I had no idea about cheerleading. Now, it’s just all so exciting.”