High school cheer and dance: Brookings Bobcats honor fellow competitor at annual invite
BROOKINGS — The Brookings cheer and dance team hosted its annual invitational at the Dacotah Bank Center on Saturday but they also took the time to honor Sophie O’Connor, who died in an ATV accident last May.
O’Connor was an athlete from Sioux Falls Washington that graduated last spring just before the accident and Saturday would have been her 19th birthday. To honor her memory, t-shirts and bracelets with “Sophie Strong” written across the front and distributed at Saturday’s invite and the Sioux Falls Washington high steppers also performed their jazz routine in tribute to O’Connor.
“The tribute to Sophie was lovely,” Brookings cheer and dance coach Hanna Siemonsma said. “It was a beautiful day to honor our senior athletes but also an athlete whose passing is felt across many communities.”
Siemonsma also said that while she had never met O’Connor, she had heard from others that she was a light to this world and impacted many in the South Dakota dance community.
“It is very special to see athletes and communities spreading that same love and kindness,” Siemonsma said.
The Bobcats also honored their seven seniors between the cheer and dance teams on Saturday including dance team member Justin Wilson-Woods, cheer team members Paige Johnson, Mya Gunvaldson, Grace Lesnar and Delilah Fuls and crossover members Amber Brockberg and Faith Caldron.
The Bobcats finished in third place in the competition with a total score of 260.5. Brookings earned scores of 87.5, 87.5 and 85.5 from the three-judge panel.
“We were very pleased with our performance on Saturday,” Siemonsma said of the Bobcats’ performance. “We are continuing to max out in difficulty and slowly increasing our execution scores. Our team is becoming more enthusiastic about how the season is progressing and it is starting to positively show in the routine. As a coach, I always love the energy and atmosphere that comes with the home competition and I think it’s a great time to increase confidence and excel during the season.”
Sioux Valley finished in fifth place at the competition with a score of 234.5. The Cossacks earned scores of 82.5, 82 and 81 with an 11-point deduction from the three-judge panel.
Deubrook Area finished in 16th place with a total score of 169.5. The Dolphins scored 64, 63 and 62.5 from the panel and had a 20-point deduction.
Brookings competed in pom and hip-hop at the invite and had a total score of 216.5. With scores of 76.5, 71 and 69 with no deductions from the three-judge panel, Brookings head coach Julie Engebretson was pleased with the performance and the opportunity to perform at home on Saturday.
“We were very excited to perform for our hometown crowd this weekend and show off our hard work from this season,” Engebretson said. “It was the best we’ve seen both routines all season.”
The Bobcats performance was even more impressive considering it was their third competition in the past nine days and Engebretson feels like the repetition has helped her team improve throughout the season.
The Bobcats score was also impressive beating out some of the other teams in Class AA including Aberdeen Central, Watertown and Tea Area in Pom and just 3.5 points behind Sioux Falls Jefferson.
“We are steadily improving in different areas in each competition and it has been so fun to watch these routines transform on the floor and advance in points. We’re very excited to be climbing to the middle of the map in [Class] AA.”
The Bobcats will return to action on Tuesday at the Huron Invitational. The Cossacks and Dolphins will participate in the Sioux Valley Invitational at the Cossack Center in Volga on Tuesday night.