Hempfield competitive spirit team has high expectations for PIAA championships

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Friday, January 28, 2022 | 6:00 AM


For the fourth time in five years, the Hempfield competitive spirit team is headed to the PIAA championships.

The Spartans’ performance is scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday, in Hershey.

Hempfield slipped by defending state champion South Fayette by 0.1 points to become back-to-back WPIAL champions.

Expectations are high for the Spartans this year because of the vast amount of experience that has returned from the team that finished fourth at states in 2021. With 17 juniors in the program and a majority of them cheering together for the last eight years, Hempfield is primed and prepared for the battles ahead.

“We’re a veteran-heavy team that has grown and learned so much over this past season. This team is stronger, more knowledgeable and they have this don’t-quit attitude that has allowed them to keep growing all year,” coach Suzannah Mayer said. “It’s important that we all keep improving and when I say that, I mean everyone — athletes and coaches. If our coaching staff doesn’t improve, then we can’t help our athletes get better.

“We fell short last year because of our own mistakes. This year we want so badly to leave PIAA knowing that we put everything out on the mat and walk away with no regrets.”

The Spartans claimed the WPIAL title this year in front of their supporters on their home floor. It was a special moment for the team.

“We are lucky to have backing and support from our district and community,” Mayer said.

Building a program that can compete at a high level over several years takes commitment from the district, coaches and the student-athletes. The opportunities also are few and far between to achieve success.

“Expectations are high because this team is capable of great things no matter what the opportunity is,” Mayer said. “We’re really excited to perform a routine we’ve worked so hard on over the last seven months. The majority of these athletes will only get this opportunity one or two more times. I hope they soak it up the entire weekend and really enjoy themselves.”

At the PIAA level, Hempfield steadily has improved its final ranking, finishing 10th in 2018, eighth in 2020 and fourth last year. It’s that progression that has Mayer and her squad excited for this year’s competition.

“It’s been awesome to be a part of this program as we’ve steadily climbed the rankings at PIAA,” Mayer said. “We went from a program that was up and coming to a team with a lot of pressure on their shoulders. Pressure’s a privilege, though, and it marks another opportunity for growth. We worked hard together over the last decade for big moments and opportunities like this. I can’t wait to cheer them on.”

However, regardless of how this Spartans team finishes, its accomplishments on and off the competition floor cannot be understated. While accolades and victories are sought after, the friendships, bonds and memories are what make the journey worthwhile.

“While we’ve had many triumphs at competitions this season, we’ve also had so many wins and successes at practice, showcases, cheer camp, team dinners/bonding, etc.,” Mayer said. “Who we are as a team and program is not defined by one 2-minute, 30-second performance. We are so much more than one performance during a season. Regardless of the results, it won’t define who we are. We’ll learn from it either way.”

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