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The Marshfield cheerleaders pump up their crowd during a basketball game against North Bend on Tuesday, at Marshfield High School. The squad competes in the state championships Saturday in Portland. 

Ed Glazar, The World

COOS BAY — Four years ago, Marshfield was adjusting to having a coed cheer team for the first time.

The Pirates have worked on getting better every year since, and think that experience is paying off as they prepare for the state championships Saturday at Memorial Coliseum in Portland.

“I’m really excited,” said senior Haylee Nanez. “This is probably the most prepared we’ve been.”

Nanez, a third-year team member who is the dance captain for the team, said the Pirates are confident in their stunts and have better tumbling than in the past.

Senior Jake Gerhardt, a team co-captain, agreed, adding that the stunts Marshfield is doing this year have higher difficulty than in the past.

“I feel like we’re going to do pretty good,” he said.

Gerhardt was on the team last year, but wasn’t able to compete at state because of an injury.

“I’m extremely excited,” he said.

First-year Marshfield head coach Theresa Walsh said the Pirates have geared a lot of the routine toward scoring as well as possible, beyond the stunt and dance elements.

Teams often use signs for the yell portion of the routine, when teams are judged on how well they lead the audience in a cheer. Marshfield will use two colors of pom-poms — the school’s colors purple and gold — and also use one flag of each of those colors. During the cheer, when the team yells “purple,” those poms and flag are raised, and when when the squad yells “gold” the others go up.

The team members also have improved their core strength and the technique of the fliers — the girls who are raised or thrown during the various stunts.

The results have been good.

Marshfield, which competes in the coed large division (large referring to the number of team members), didn’t place in its first competition at South Albany. But at the Sheldon Invitational, the team placed second and its coed stunt group placed first while its all-girl stunt group was third. For good measure, the middle school team placed second in its division.

“All four groups came back with medals,” Walsh said.

Walsh is in her second year with the program. She was assistant to Kallie Mill last year and had previously coached at Taft High School in Lincoln City.

She might be as nervous as her athletes.

“I’m excited,” she said. “My first time being head coach, I’m a little nervous.

“They seem really prepared. They’re ready. They work really well together on the mat.”

Nanez would love for the Pirates to bring home a trophy, but said that’s not the only measure of success.

“I mostly just want to make sure that everyone tries their hardest and feels good about the routine and leaves their heart on the mat.”

Marshfield’s team includes Nanez; Gerhardt; senior co-captain Courtney Grant; junior stunt captain Cassandra Casey; juniors Amy Annalaoro, Jonathan Mullins, Martika Houk and Raine Quinones; sophomores Annika Johnson and Hannah Mork; and freshmen Heather Grant, Katrina Hampton, Mykalean Lawrence and Nevaeh Wheaton. The alternates are junior Ryan Graham and freshman Alexis Rosevear.

Marshfield is one of nine schools in the coed large division, and will compete in the afternoon session Saturday. That session starts at 12:45 p.m., with Marshfield scheduled to be on the mat at 1:20 p.m.

Admission is $13 for adults and $7.50 for students. Those who want to attend the morning session also will have to pay admission to watch those schools compete.