By Dan Guttenplan Sports Editor
Newburyport Daily News
---- — The Amesbury cheerleading team is headed to All-State Championships for the first time in Maureen Boody’s four years as coach.
The Indians earned the right to travel to Shrewsbury Sunday for the All-State competition with a third-place finish in the North Regional last Sunday in Beverly. That came on the heels of a second-place finish in the Cape Ann League Large Championships Nov. 4. The Indians finished behind Masconomet, a CAL Division 2 team. Amesbury is considered a CAL Division 3 team.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” Boody said. “We’ve never even qualified for regionals, let alone states. We’ve been working hard to build the program. I didn’t imagine we’d get this far.”
Boody said the program’s ascent has been due, in part, to a collection of year-round cheerleaders. In the past, many of the cheerleaders played other sports in the winter and spring. This fall, nearly the entire roster will return for the winter season. The Indians will go through many of their routines on Thanksgiving Day when the football team hosts Newburyport.
“The girls who cheer year-round brought added cheering skills: stunting and tumbling,” Moody said. “We haven’t had that in a long time.”
Amesbury will enter the All-State competition seeded eighth out of 12 teams. If the Indians post a score of 160 or higher, they will advance to the High School National Championships in Lexington, Ky., this winter.
Senior captain Mackenzie Richard believes the team’s chemistry has been key in the postseason success. She said the team has the perfect balance of talent as bases and flyers.
“Some girls have been together longer, but we don’t even have them in the same groups,” Richard said. “(Coach Moody) focused on individual skills and matched us. We haven’t made it this far in a long time. Going into CAL Championships, I thought we’d finish second or third because we work so hard.”
Senior co-captain Gaelan McDonald believes what separates this Amesbury team from previous squads is the collective unity.
“We’ve set aside our differences and put our strength to it,” McDonald said. “In past seasons, we’ve been known to have friction. This year, we had a common goal of making regionals, and we strived toward it.