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The Richmond Competitive Cheer team put on a solid show in the third round of competition on Saturday night in Oxford at the Division III Regional meet. They won the meet to move on to defend their state title in Grand Rapids this weekend. (Photos by MATTHEW FAHR)

Competitive Cheerleading

Richmond to defend cheer title

Blue Devils take top spot at regionals

The Blue Devils celebrate their win by showing off their trophy after it was announced they had beaten Pontiac Notre Dame Prep for the top spot at the meet. It is the second straight year that Richmond has beaten the Irish at the Regional meet.

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With the weight of expectations and their top rival facing them down, the Richmond Competitive Cheerleading team stood tall in taking first place at the Division III Regional meet at Oxford on Saturday night.

Pontiac Notre Dame Prep edged out Richmond by one-third of a point last week at the district meet on the Blue Devils’ home floor. Head coach Kelli Matthes acknowledged that it was a factor that drove her team, but not the main factor.

“Losing by half a third of a point lights a fire in a different way,” she admitted after the Blue Devils beat the Irish by nine points. “But we were focused on qualifying and getting ready for the state finals.”

The night began with Notre Dame holding a half point lead after the first of three rounds of competition. Richmond stormed back and convincingly took the next two rounds to earn the win in the 12 team meet.

It will not be the last time the two teams will see each other.

Along with Notre Dame, Ovid Elsie and Grosse Ile also qualified to move on to the final eight teams in the state that will compete to knock off Richmond.

Comstock Park, Paw Paw, Otsego and Lakewood Lake Odessa will also be on hand this weekend at the Delta Plex in Grand Rapids.

Comstock Park has won or been runner up every year since 2008 and Grosse Ile was champions in 2010.

Matthes admitted her sport can sometimes become personal in trying to gain a measure of revenge each year by knocking off a hated rival, but she said she has been trying to keep her team focused on a specific goal rather than outscoring a specific team.

“We never talk about other teams and we never focus on anyone else,” she said. “It is about tunnel vision and doing what they need to do for themselves.”

Even after outscoring Comstock by 40 points on Saturday, the Blue Devils coach is still looking to improve on their routines.

“We won the second round today, but we did not execute the way we planned it,” she said afterward. “They did beautifully in the third round, but we are still working out the kinks.”

There are seven seniors on this Blue Devil squad of 19 girls and they are looking to go out on the biggest possible high after building their own path to their first championship last year.

In their freshman year they placed third and in their sophomore year they were second by 27 points to Comstock. Last year they knocked off the Panthers by 16 points and are looking to do something historic in Division III.

“It is definitely realistic and that has been our goal all along is to do something that has never been done before and that is to win it back to back,” said Matthes.

The coach said that her girls will not rest on their laurels and point to last year’s banner as their crowning achievement. They want more.

“They are not going to go out easy,” Matthes said with confidence. “They are not going to just let somebody else take it. They are going to fight for it tooth and nail.”

The finals will take place this Saturday at 6 p.m.

Contact Matthew Fahr at (586) 716-8100, ext. 300 or at matt.fahr@voicenews.com. He can also be followed on Twitter @FahrOutMan.

Last Updated: 2/25/2013 11:25:53 AM EST