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Competitive Spirit

WINNING SPIRIT: A-C Valley Overcomes Illness Bug to Win D9 Co-Ed Championship for Second Consecutive Year

NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (EYT/D9) — In the weeks leading up to the District 9 Competitive Spirit Championships, A-C Valley rarely had a full team together at practices.

Illnesses swept through the roster.

That made it difficult to prepare.

But the Falcons, on a short week of practice with all the pieces of the routine finally assembled, hit their big stunt during the performance at Redbank Valley High School on Saturday to come home with their second consecutive co-ed championship.

“I was kind of nervous about today, to tell you the truth,” said A-C Valley competitive spirit coach Stacey Fox. “I’ve had some pretty sick kids since Dec. 17 and I finally got everyone back Wednesday night. But they went out and did exactly what I told them to do.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

The illnesses made for a pretty challenging two weeks for Fox and her team, which had to improvise and work around the missing members of the team.

Senior Chloe Myers, who was able to dodge the bug that ran rampant throughout the team, said there was a backup plan if anyone was missing on Saturday, or if the short time to prepare forced the Falcons to switch to another routine.

“One of the girls in my stunt group was one of the ones who was sick for a little bit,” Myers said. “It was pretty hard to try to fill in people. I fill in with basketball, so sometimes I wasn’t even there. There were times when none of my stunt group was there except for my flier, Baylie Wingard.”

A-C Valley, though, went to work on Wednesday with a full team together again and ironed out some of the kinks caused by the lack of practice time.

Myers said she didn’t really know what to expect when she and her teammates took the floor for their performance.

She felt better — and a sense of relief — when she found out A-C Valley had won with 85.9 points.

“I was pretty excited,” Myers said. “It was a very humbling experience to work so hard and to earn it the way we did, to get what we worked for.”

For Myers, it was also a thrill to win back-to-back crowns.

Her sophomore season fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was important for her to have a strong showing as a senior and to cap her District 9 career with another championship.

“It means a lot because I didn’t get a chance to win my freshman and sophomore years,” Myers said. “So it was really great to have this one.”

Fox said she gave the team some pep talks Friday and again on Saturday to try to mentally prepare them for the competition.

“They were definitely feeling frustration this week. I said, ‘If you do what I say to the best of your ability, I think we can win,’” Fox said. “And they did that. They did exactly what I told them to do and we we won. I’m very proud of them.”

A-C Valley will now move on to the PIAA Competitive Spirit Championships in Hershey in two weeks.

Fox is hoping her team can stay healthy.

“Hopefully it’s kind of all gone through here,” Fox said.

Members of the A-C Valley co-ed competitive spirit team are: Alexa Heeter, Chloe Myers, Lily Whitling, Sara D’Amat, Madison Hurrelbrink, Hannah Ithen, Sophia McGarvey, Kyleigh Morrison, Maria Garcia, Braylagh Claypoole, Payton Duffee, Kira Hetrick, Sami Whitling, Baylie Wingard, Breauna Wolbert, Aby Griebel, Evann Jenkins, Madi Myers, Aidan Fox.

St. Marys claimed the D9 crown in the small varsity division with 87.2 points.

Elk County Catholic won the District 9 title in the large varsity division with 92 points.

Moniteau, Karns City and Redbank Valley also earned trips to the state competition.

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.