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Xtreme Gemz of Marble Falls wins international cheer competition

The Hill Country Dance and Cheer Xtreme Gemz Gold team recently earned a division championship at the Aloha International Spirit cheer competition in Austin. The team, consisting of Kendal Hampton-Hogue (top, left), Meredith Cormier, Brianna Arnold, Gina Burton (second row, left), Ciah Denney, Kasey Drummond, Gretchen Hanneman, Zoe Stedman (front row, left) and Isabella Drum, have been training for just over a year but already are moving up the ranks. Courtesy photo

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

MARBLE FALLS — Last summer, Charla Cormier wanted to create a cheer program that gave her squad at Hill Country Dance and Cheer the best shot at winning some competitions.

She enlisted the help of Katie Miller of Cheer Station in Austin to choreograph the routine and teach it to the squad, Xtreme Gemz, during summer camp.

Summer camp, however, can often just be a faded memory for many kids as fall rolls around.

But not if you’re a member of Xtreme Gemz.

“They work at it,” Cormier said. “We push them, as coaches, but they really come in here and work.”

The Xtreme Gemz are Kendal Hampton-Hogue, Meredith Cormier, Brianna Arnold, Gina Burton, Ciah Denney, Kasey Drummond, Gretchen Hanneman, Zoe Stedman and Isabella Blum.

The team won the Prep Level 2 Junior division in the Aloha International Spirit competition Dec. 6 at the Austin Convention Center. What makes this significant, Cormier said, was this group of girls has really only been training for a little more than a year.

“Their progress has been incredible,” Cormier said. To compete or advance in the competitive cheer world takes a great deal of effort and practice. The squad trains at least an hour-and-a-half twice a week at Hill Country Dance and Cheer. But as a competition approaches, the amount of time goes up.

And the routines can get complicated and extremely dynamic.

Cormier said the competition routines can include a number of stunts, pyramids, dancing and tumbling. Though Cormier and her assistance coach, Lindsey Reitz, both have competitive cheer and coaching experience, they decided to bring in Miller this summer to help with the choreography.

The initial program included several stunts and other things that challenged the girls.

For this latest competition, Cormier removed a few of the more complicated portions of the routine.

“I wanted to go in there with something I knew we were solid with,” she said. With the Aloha International Spirit competition behind them and a boost of confidence from the win, Cormier plans to put the more complicated stunts back in as the team prepares for its next competition in February.

“We push them as coaches, but a lot of it comes from them and wanting to get better,” Cormier said. “I’m so proud of them.”

Go to www.hillcountrydanceandcheer.com for more information.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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