Competitive cheer reigns elite in Rochester as city schools own state finals

Stoney Creek Cheer
Posted at 3:55 PM, Mar 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-08 19:03:36-05

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. (WXYZ) — In the season of crowning state champions, nobody reigned quite supreme as high schools in the Rochester Community School District.

In competitive cheer, Stoney Creek High School came home with their third finals title in school history but their first since 2019. And right behind them in a tight-scoring finish were their cross-town rivals from Adams and Rochester high schools.

“It’s honestly so surreal,” Stoney Creek senior Lily Leone recalled. “I know us seniors looked at each other and said this is not going to be the end of our story next year, we are going to do something different.”

“When you really believe that it’s yours, that’s when it comes to you,” Stoney Creek senior Abbey DeGraw echoed.

Cougars head coach Tricia Williams has been at Stoney Creek for 21 seasons of competitive cheer, with roots to the city of Rochester. She said this year’s team was different.

“At competitive season tryouts, as a group, they came up to us coaches and said they didn’t want to have captains, they didn’t want anything to divide their group and they wanted to lead as a team,” Williams explained. “And I think that leadership and that focus is really what made this team have that little extra bit.”

So while Stoney Creek will soak in their championship title, they’re not far from other past state champions and teams that were right on their heels in the state finals.

“It’s a blessing in disguise — your biggest competitor is in your back yard,” Leone said.

The MHSAA covers the entire state, with teams from nearly 100,000 square miles in Michigan. However, despite all of that competition, this year’s Division 1 title came down to the three neighbors: Stoney Creek, Adams and Rochester, in that order.

“Those teams really are incredible and deserve to be known as that as well,” DeGraw said. “Competing against teams that are so amazing and at a consistently high level makes you better.”

Since 2016, only one single time has a team not from Rochester won the state title. Eight of the last nine Division 1 state champions have been from Rochester.

Williams and her team knows what they’ve gone through is special, but they also know what’s happening around them is special. Williams has one single message to all of those athletes who will one day look back on a prolific cheer career.

“As coaches, we want to focus on showing these athletes that they can do whatever they put their mind to,” Williams said. “There is a way to figure it out, to preserve, and if you want to work hard enough, you can have whatever you want. It’s something so special and something to hold on to forever.”