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City Section to host inaugural competitive cheer championship on Saturday

The newest sport in the City Section — competitive cheer — will hold its first championship on Saturday at Lake Balboa Birmingham.

It's the 22nd official sport in the City Section, and before it faces the usual challenges associated with other sports — transfers and crazy parents — you might want to drop by to see what a pure competition looks like in its infancy.

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There are 37 schools that will compete for titles in four divisions. The competition starts at 9 a.m. and ends with the Division I awards ceremony at 1:30 p.m.

Get ready for lots of tumbling, stunting and pyramids while music fills the gym. The City has hired varsity.com to supply a DJ and an announcer as well as run the event.

In March, at a regional competitive cheer event, it was startling to see the genuine sportsmanship, friendship and camaraderie. Competitors would break out dancing in the bleachers as their favorite songs were played. They'd sit in circles on a mat waiting for the awards to be announced, smiling, singing and dancing.

Don't anyone doubt this is going to become a well-attended sport in California. The first CIF state title competition is probably three years away. The Southern Section is expected to hold its first championship next school year.

In Colorado, the state championships draw more than 4,000 fans to the Denver Coliseum, an arena that seats 10,200.

Vinnie Orlando, the athletic director at Eaglecrest High in Centennial, Colo., and a former Woodland Hills El Camino Real assistant principal, said, "The commitment and dedication of these girls is really something else. They go to camps during the summer. They have regional competitions in the fall and nationals in February. There's no club influence. There's outside companies that have cheer year round, but the high school season is still sacred for state competition."

This first championship has a mix of small and large schools competing against each other. Birmingham is favored in Division I, but also in the mix are small schools such as Torres, Stern and Santee. In Division IV, Westchester is in with the likes of POLA, Fulton and Animo Robinson.

Two certified athletic trainers will be in attendance, and for good reason. This sport can produce injuries. Fremont would have been the 38th team in the event but one of its athletes suffered a concussion during the regionals, so the team decided to pull out, according to Michelle Galarza, who is coordinating the event.

Brains and brawn: The Yorba Linda softball team has a battle for highest team grade-point average. Shortstop Mikayla Buscaino is at 4.80; third baseman Shelby Knutsen is at 4.54; outfielder Meredith Meadows is at 4.43 and pitcher Allison Gardiner is at 4.27.

Freshman standout: Chino Hills' softball team has certainly found a star in freshman pitcher Kendall Mangel. She has won 24 games this season to set a school record.

Spring football: Los Alamitos is the site for the Orlando Scandrick seven-on-seven passing tournament on Saturday. Santa Ana Mater Dei, Bellflower St. John Bosco and Harbor City Narbonne are among the schools sending teams to the tournament that begins at 9:30 a.m.

First City title at stake for new CIF sport

Twitter: @latsondheimer

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