POP Cheer Factory 2nd at U.S. Finals

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
The Monett Ignite dance team will compete for national honors on Saturday in Kansas City. Pictured, from left, are: Ava Hinson, Jenna Crim, Kirsten Wilson, Aubrey Baker, Emilee Johnson, Sara Longley, Madison Williams, Allison Burruss, Shaye Mills and Christina Marlowe. Contributed photo

Ignite cheer squad ranked as high as 16th nationally

Monett cheer gym, POP Cheer Factory (PCF), qualified 10 participants for the U.S. Finals in Kansas City and finished second on Saturday.

Based in Monett, the team is made up of girls from Cassville, Aurora and Monett.

Earning a berth to the U.S. Finals was a great achievement, the gym's coach said.

"This is big news for our small gym," said Savannah Elrod, PCF owner. "I guess you could say this little team is making a big name for itself. This is the first time we have ever qualified for the U.S. Finals."

Elrod is in her fourth year coaching the All-Star Cheerleading squad, and she is assisted by Kelly Hinson, Paula Baker and Cara Clark.

The PCF has three competitive cheer teams that make up its rosters -- Sparks, Dynamite and Ignite.

The Sparks are comprised of 12 girls ages 3 to 6. On the Dynamite team, 11 young ladies, from ages 8 to 11, pump up the jam. Six Dynamite cheer squad members cross over and join four other young ladies to form the Ignite squad. That team qualified for the U.S. Finals.

Ignite is comprised of girls from ages 8-14 and competed in Kansas City against the nine best teams from Missouri, Nebraska, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

"Our routine was a two-minute routine with four stunt sections," Elrod said. "We were judged in the stunt, tumbling, dance and jumps areas. Each routine has to have certain things in order to score well."

According to Elrod, Ignite has had a year for the record books.

"They started off the season with a bang," Elrod said of Ignite. "In November, we attended our first competition in Branson and received first place out of four teams. Along with that, we received a U.S. Finals Gold paid bid. That meant our U.S. Finals registration fee for each athlete is paid, which is quite the honor."

Elrod said winning teams were determined by having the highest percentage of perfection scores.

In January, Ignite again took top honors, this time at St. Charles, earning first place in tumbling and being named Division Champions. The top placing earned the squad a partial paid bid to U.S. Finals: The One Finals.

"It was another huge accomplishment," Elrod said. "To win two bids in one year is amazing."

In February, Ignite traveled to Joplin, winning top honors in stunts. The squad followed that performance up with first-place finishes in Kansas City and Sedalia.

The accumulation of No. 1 finishes allowed the team to gain national recognition, and for the month of November 2015, Monett POP Cheer Factory was ranked No. 16 nationally.

The Sparks earned a third-place finish in Joplin and a fifth-place finish at Sedalia.

The Dynamite squad earned first-place accolades at Branson, and it also received a U.S. Finals bid.

"The Dynamite offer only paid a partial amount to the U.S. Finals," Elrod said. "Since most of the girls cross over and earned a full paid ride on Ignite, we took that offer instead."

In Sedalia, Dynamite took first place in the seven-team event in best pyramid and best tumbling, and the team was named Overall Grand Champions.

POP Cheer factory will hold cheer evaluations May 17 and May 20. For more information, people may call 417-489-6278.

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