The hard work and the long hours paid off for the Minot High cheer team in the fall when it captured the Class A title in mid-November in Fargo.
Now, the Magicians set their focus on the winter title in Bismarck on Saturday, where they won't sneak up on anybody like they may have in the fall.
"I don't know if anyone was anticipating us to be competition in the fall, and we came out as a surprise," Minot coach Carly Gates said. "It was fun to see them realize that hard work can really pay off. They're hungry for another chance at another title."
The Minot High cheer team is looking to defend its fall championship on Saturday at the winter cheer championships in Bismarck.
The cheer team, consisting of 21 athletes, will perform a 2 1/2-minute routine consisting of jumps, stunts, dance and cheer. Minot will also compete in the stunt team competition, the jump-off and the all-around.
Emily Stauffer, Abby Howard, Kourtney Wehrman, Jessica Bullard and J'Kobe Wallace will represent Minot in the stunt team competition. A stunt is a trick involving a flyer - the cheerleader who is lifted into the air - being supported by one or more people, known as the base.
Wallace will also compete in the jump-off along with Cheyenne Marcellais. Howard and Wehrman will partake in the all-around. Wallace won the all-around title in the fall and Kayley Walter claimed the jump-off championship.
Gates said she doesn't believe there's a target on her team's back after winning the fall championship. She is more concerned with adding another chapter to Minot's impressive run this academic year.
"I'm hoping we can show that Minot really is out to get it," Gates said. "This year, we've had awesome turnouts all the way from football, to swimming, to basketball. All of them had really great seasons, and I hope that people start to realize that cheerleading is athletic. They want to win and represent Minot well."
Gates said representing Minot well doesn't just mean during competition. The way the Magicians represent themselves outside of competition aids in their success.
"A great cheer team is one that can stick together and can work through things and not around them," Gates said. "We push these athletes to the limit, not only athletically, but also with character. We expect the best out of them and expect them to perform in the classroom. We expect them to be part of their community in a positive way."
Gates is in her third season as the head coach of the cheer team and is assisted by Kori Duenas, Sarah Magnuson and Angela Speiser.
Mike Kraft covers Minot High athletics, the Minot Minotauros and the Minot State men's club hockey team. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23-MDN.