Plum competitive spirit team ready for 1st trip to PIAA championships

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Friday, January 28, 2022 | 6:00 AM


Not many sports crown a champion after just 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

That’s how much time it took for the Plum competitive cheer team to earn a spot in the PIAA championships for the first time in school history. Though the preparation took much longer than that.

“We started putting their routine together in mid-August,” Plum competitive spirit coach Amanda Anderson said. “It’s a lot of time and a lot of practice. As the season has gone on this year, we made a lot of improvements to the routine.”

The Mustangs advanced to the PIAA competitive spirit championship Friday and Saturday in Hershey.

“The nerves, the adrenaline, the motivation, it all comes into play,” Anderson said. “It’s all there for 2:30.”

Plum placed 10th overall in Class 3A and fifth in the Class 3A small-school division at WPIAL championships Jan. 11 at Hempfield. The Mustangs finished with a final score of 76.7 to punch their ticket to Hershey’s Giant Center.

The difference between the small and large school divisions in Class 3A is that the small-school division has no more than 15 athletes on the floor. The Mustangs will compete at states in the Class 3A small division. If they were to make it to the final round, the Mustangs will compete against the Class 3A larger schools.

“Our WPIAL routine, we didn’t change anything a few weeks prior,” Anderson said. “With our state routine, we actually just made a few changes.”

After a day spent watching other teams’ routines, Plum waited patiently to have its name called down to the performance floor as one of the schools to represent the WPIAL in the state competition. And for the first time, the word Plum was uttered from the judge’s mouth.

“We’ve just been waiting for their name to be called and for them to know that their hard work paid off,” said Anderson, who is in her fifth season as coach. “Some of the girls were crying, they were so excited. We see how hard the girls work. It was very exciting and joyful to hear their names called.”

Plum missed advancing to last season’s PIAA championships by a tenth of a point. Last year, due to covid protocols, the field was trimmed to just a few schools from each district.

“I knew that they were focused enough, and I knew that they were gonna do the best they could,” Anderson said. “Going into WPIALs, I was pretty confident in their skills. They really have worked really hard and always asked if we can squeeze in an extra practice, and they always hold each other accountable. I know that when they do their best, they’ll do really well.”

Just as important as turning in the perfect routine is being able to adapt to a mistake. That’s what Plum did during it’s WPIAL routine; the Mustangs rebounded from a mistake.

“The best athletes are the ones who know how to recoup from an error or a mistake,” Anderson said.

This year’s trip to Hershey might be the Mustangs’ first trip to the chocolate capital, but Anderson is convinced it won’t be their last. It’s just the beginning for Plum.

“This is our first step to many years of attending the event,” Anderson said.

William Whalen is a freelance writer.

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