Lynnwood Cheer heads to WIAA State Tournament for the third straight year

Three years ago, Amber Torres took over as the head coach of the cheerleading team at Lynnwood High School. That year, she started the school’s first competition team and led them to their first state competition.

On Saturday, Jan. 27, The Royals will travel to Battle Ground High School, about 20 miles north of the Oregon border, to compete in their third straight appearance in the WIAA State Tournament.

Torres grew up dancing and competing. The daughter of a professional ballroom dancer, she began cheerleading in middle school, then competing on cheer teams at Elsinore High (California) and danced in college at the University of California, Berkley.

That experience proved valuable in taking over a group of cheerleaders in 2016 who had never participated as a competitive team. They qualified for the state tournament during their final competition and, at Hec Edmundson Pavilion on the University of Washington camps, came away as the 6th place team out of eight in the Non-Tumbling, Small classification.

The Royals returned to the state tournament last year, finishing third in the 3A/4A Non-Tumbling Large division, just 1.75 points behind their Edmonds School District rival, Meadowdale.

To qualify for the WIAA State Cheerleading Tournament, a team must have performed in at least ten school-sanctioned events such as assemblies, sideline cheerleading, half-time performances or pep rallies and also receive a score of 59 points or better in a sanctioned competition. Those competitions are judged using a specific rubric where the team is judged on the cheer and music portions of their performance.

In the two previous seasons, the Lynnwood squad qualified late in the season at one of their final competitions. This year’s group qualified in their first competition back in November. All season long, they have been consistently battling as one of the top three teams in their classification.

Coach Torres spoke about this year’s team heading into the big weekend.

“They are extremely hard working,” she said. “It’s really hard to shake that feeling of being an underdog for the past couple years, but this year, I feel like they really are a contender. I wouldn’t count them out for anything.”

The WIAA breaks up competition groups for the State Tournament using the style of competition, school classification (1B, 2B, 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A) and the number of schools that qualify. In order for there to be a competing group, there must be at least four qualifying schools. This year, only three teams at the 2A or 3A level qualified, so Lynnwood will compete in one large group of 11 teams from 2A, 3A and eight schools from 4A high schools in the Non-Tumbling, Medium division.

The Royals will perform Saturday afternoon against teams from Walla Walla, Hanford, Auburn Riverside, Ballard, Moses Lake, Kentridge, Auburn Mountainview, South Kitsap, Woodland and Skyline. Doors open to the public at 11 a.m. and competitions begin at 12:10 p.m. Lynnwood is scheduled to perform at 4:05 p.m.

For more information on the WIAA State Cheerleading Tournament, tickets, site information, performance schedule and a link to watch live online, visit https://www.wiaa.com/ardisplay.aspx?ID=1574.

–Story and photos by Scott Williams

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