The Hotchkiss High School spirit team will compete this Saturday at the 20th annual Spirit Fest at Elitch Gardens in Denver.
The event includes a variety of cheer and dance divisions, with teams competing for 2018 season passes to Elitch's. Trophies are awarded for the top three placers in each division.
This is the team's first trip to the competition, said head coach Liz Heidrick. Since last year's state competition the team has continued to train, and hosted a cheer camp at HHS on Aug. 25-26.
The hard work is paying off, said Heidrick. At the National Cheerleaders Association summer cheer camp, nine team members received special honors: Adair Ela and team captain Aubree Harward were named All-Americans. For the second consecutive year, team captains Jade Hart, Kaleigh Little and Peyton Short received All-American nominations; and first time All-American nominees include Taylor West (choreographer), Joli Derby (choreographer) and MaKahla Johnson.
Jhenna Manzanares was honored with the "most improved stunting" award.
This is the team's first trip to the Elitch Gardens competition, said Heidrick. She hopes the experience helps prepare the team for the Western Slope Regional meet in Grand Junction, and the Colorado High School Activities Association State Spirit Competition this Dec. 8 and 9 at the Denver Coliseum.
Hotchkiss placed third in state competitions the past two seasons, "But it was bitter-sweet both times," said Heidrick. The team missed out on bringing home a trophy by less than one point.
This year, Heidrick is hopeful and says, "We are looking to bring home a trophy."
Two fatal accidents occurred in Delta County within a two-day span last week.
Casey Gillenwater, 25, of Delta was killed the afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 13, in a single-vehicle rollover on Highway 133 outside of Hotchkiss.