HERSHEY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Thursday morning before the Moniteau competitive spirit team was set to embark for the state championships in Hershey, the Warriors had one more intense practice.
As they climbed onto the bus, one fact was obvious to the 12 members of the team.
They were ready.
“I was one of the people to make the goal that we were going to be top five,” said junior Ashlyn Baptiste. “I think if you have confidence, you’re going to do well and I was confident. I was manifesting all those good thoughts.”
Baptiste was clairvoyant.
Moniteau finished second in their Panel on Friday to move directly to the finals and on Saturday had a flawless routine with no point deductions to place third out of 30 schools in the Class 2A Small Varsity division at the PIAA Competitive Spirit Championships.
The Warriors earned 85.4 points. Only state champion Lansdale Catholic (93.3) and Richland (88) were better.
“Walking off the mat,” Baptiste said, “I had tears of joy.”
Moniteau advanced to the state championships last season, but had a very disappointing showing. The Warriors placed ninth with just 62.27 points.
This year at the District 9 championships, the Warriors won for the fourth consecutive season, but were deducted 5.5 points during their performance.
The emphasis leading up to the state final was to clean up the routine and have a perfect showing.
Moniteau accomplished that goal.
“It was definitely nice,” said senior Shayla Nagy. “It was definitely a way better feeling than how we came off the mat last year.”
Senior Victoria DeMatteis didn’t dwell on scores or places — she just wanted a flawless routine.
She believed if they did that, everything else would fall into place.
“I’m just really proud of my team,” DeMatteis said. “I wasn’t too focused on what place we got. I was just more focused on doing well.”
Moniteau competitive sprit coach Melissa DeMatteis said instead of doing a different routine, the team decided on perfecting the one they used to win the D9 title.
That meant hours and hours of work in the weeks preceding the state championships.
“We really didn’t take many days off,” DeMatteis said. “I think that they felt confident after we had some really good practices the whole week leading up to states. They still had a lot of nerves, but they gave all that they had to give.”
Like Baptiste, DeMatteis said after Moniteau’s performance, she expected a high score.
“Oh, gosh. These girls — they were so excited,” DeMatteis said. “This is the best we’ve ever done in our program, so we made history today. They are feeling humbled and thrilled all at the same time. It’s proof that hard work pays off.”
“I can’t even tell you how proud I am,” said coach Kelly Kohlmeyer. “They work like dogs. They’re in the gym five or six days a week. It’s ridiculous how hard they work and it paid off. They deserved it.”
Members of the team are: seniors Victoria DeMatteis, Lexi Lasichak, Kylee Surrena and Shayla Nagy; juniors Ashlyn Baptiste, Molly Grossman and Riley Long; sophomores Sammie Smith, Kelsey Stewart and Tori Burdick; and freshmen Bella Hernandez and Alyssa McFadden.
Moniteau will now prepare for the national competition in Orlando in two weeks.
The showing in Hershey has made the Warriors alter their goals there.
“I think we can shoot higher,” Nagy said, “seeing how we compare to the Pennsylvania teams.”
Elk County Catholic also had a big weekend in Hershey, placing second out of 14 schools in the Class 2A Large School division with 84.6 points.
Neshannock won with a score of 84.9.
A-C Valley just missed making the finals Friday, finishing third in the semifinals with a score of 78.55 in the Coed division.