Dominant is one way to describe the Whitman-Hanson Regional High cheerleading team.
The program has captured 19 straight league titles and six state titles over the past four years.
Last year was capped with a Division 2 New England title in March. It began with a Patriot League title in the fall, which was followed by an NCA national title, another league title, a Division 2 South regional title and a Division 2 state title during the winter season.
W-H head coach Tanisha King said that despite the success, her athletes take nothing as a given.
“I always say it’s good to get knocked down once in a while,” King said of the Panthers’ fall state title performance last season. “It’s kind of a hit in the stomach when you hear your name get called for fifth place because that isn’t the norm for us. But they don’t take anything for granted because I always try to say there is another team in the gym working just as hard as you or they’re putting in an extra day or practice because they know how good you’re going to be, and their goal is to beat you.”
King said that despite her team’s success, it’s certainty faced its fair share of challenges, and this season is no different. The Panthers will be tasked with replacing fouryear varsity starters and 201617 senior captains Ali Joanis, Hannah MacDonald, Olivia Villanueva and Payton Wright.
“Dominant seniors,” King said. “They played a major role in all our titles and accomplishments we achieved for the past four years.”
Although King is quick to point out she feels this team is the readiest one she’s ever had in terms of stamina and current skill level.
“They’re the most in shape, and you can just tell there is a different vibe with them, where they’re coming off that state title and they want to continue to win another title,” the sixth-year W-H head coach said.
Leading the Panthers this season will be junior captain Anna Franklin, who like her predecessors, has been on varsity since day one.
“She’s a great role model on the team and in the school [academically], she is a mentor, high honors, just allaround great-student athlete, what we coaches look for,” King said. “She is attentive, she pays attention to her teammates and she just leads by example.”
The Panthers will hit the mat for their first competition Saturday, Oct. 28, at 12 p.m. in the Braintree Fall Cheerleading Invitational at Braintree High.
“There is just a lot of pressure for them to work hard and I guess keep up the name,” King said. “We are Whitman-Hanson, so there is a certain perception people expect to see, so that’s basically our goal every year.”
Published on Thursday, Oct. 26.