Cheerleading became a CIF sport starting with the 2017-18 school year.

Yes, it’s a sport. Guys in their 50s can compete fine in a basketball rec league and men and women in their 60s can be excellent golfers. But if those folks try those tumbles high school cheerleaders perform, those folks are going to look for the nearest urgent care.

The CIF Southern Section had its traditional competitive cheer championships this past Saturday at ML King High in Riverside.

El Dorado won the Division 1AA championship. Other Orange County teams that won championships Saturday: Mater Dei (Division 1A), Villa Park (3A), Irvine (4AA), Marina (4A) and La Habra (Division 3A Coed).

Spartans Nailed It!!!
CIF Championships!@latsondheimer @MAlvarez02 @ocvarsityguy

— Villa Park Athletics (@VPHSathletics) January 21, 2023

Teams receive scores based on various factors including execution. technique and degree of difficulty, and ability to lead and inspire a crowd. Higher divisions (1AA, 1A) have fewer skill restrictions than the lower divisions.

Orange County teams have done well in the four years of the CIF-SS cheer championships. Mater Dei and Marina won titles for the second year in a row. In the four years of the championships, Cypress has two girls championships and one coed title, and finished fourth in Division 2 coed this season.

The cheer season continues with SoCal Regionals competition Saturday. Several O.C. teams will be at the nationals competition in Orlando, Fla., next month.

El Dorado seniors Sarah Sriruksa and Lauren Surh got some special satisfaction from their championship. They were CIF-SS champions three years ago when this year’s seniors were freshmen.

That has impressed Golden Hawks cheer coach Rilee Bragg.

“That shows how dedicated they are to the program,” Bragg said. “They love cheerleading. They love getting that respect for themselves and they love representing their school.”

Sriruksa said the road to this year’s CIF championship was a rough one at times.

“We had so many setbacks,” she said. “So many sicknesses, and sometimes we had to use alternates. But we were able to utilize everybody in the program to get through the hardships, and then to win this was really rewarding.”

And for those who think cheerleading does not deserve CIF recognition as a sport …

“They look at cheer and say ‘that looks easy,’” Surh said. “Well, we’re supposed to make it look easy, to keep smiling and look like we’re OK when you’re practically dying out there and you’re tired. If we fall, we can’t just stop and throw a tantrum.”

And there have been injuries.

“Right before a competition I was doing flips on my bed,” Sriruksa said, “and I fell onto the floor and got a concussion. But I didn’t tell anyone or go to the doctor right away.”

And for Surh, “Before a competition last year I broke my foot in the warm-up room. But I didn’t allow that to stop me because I didn’t want to let down my team.”

Yes, cheerleading is a sport. A tough one, too.


Edison golf coach Brendan Patch and Santa Margarita swimming and diving coach Richard Blanc last week were named 2021-22 National Coaches of the Year by the National Federation of State High School Associations. Blanc’s brother Ron has been something of a co-coach with Richard at Santa Margarita over the years, so let’s give Ron some credit, too. …

The scores of the two Capistrano Valley-Tesoro boys basketball games: Capistrano Valley 62, Tesoro 60 in overtime on Jan. 11; Tesoro 54, Capistrano Valley 52 on Wednesday. Tesoro is in first place in the South Coast League at 4-1, one game ahead of Capistrano Valley and San Juan Hills at 3-2 each. …

Mater Dei’s boys basketball team is 3-4 and in fourth place in the Trinity League with league games remaining against Orange Lutheran, Santa Margarita and Servite. Mater Dei lost to Orange Lutheran and Santa Margarita in the first round of league play. The top three teams in the six-team league are guaranteed CIF-SS playoff berths, so Mater Dei might, for the first time in Coach Gary McKnight’s 41 seasons at the school, have to take the at-large route to get into the Division 1 playoffs. Last year, Division 1 had five at-large teams added to the bracket. …

All boys and girls basketball league games must be played by Thursday, Feb. 3. Playoff brackets for boys and girls basketball will be released Feb. 5. …

CIF-SS boys and girls wrestling dual-meet playoff brackets were released Thursday. The two-day tournament starts Saturday and concludes Wednesday, Feb. 1. Top-seeded boys teams are Trabuco Hills in Division 3 and Western in Division 5; for girls, Marina is seeded fourth in Division 1 and Laguna Hills is seeded second in Division 2. …

The Orange County North-South All-Star Football Game is Feb. 4 at Newport Harbor High. Kickoff at 7 p.m. Go to for tickets ($15 in advance, $20 on game day at the gate) and more information. …

One of the more prominent football transfers this offseason has been All-County running back Kobe Boykin leaving Orange to enroll at Los Alamitos. Boykin, a junior, is committed to Utah. …

In recent football coaching news: Poutea Fuega is the new head coach at Magnolia. He previously was the head coach at Balboa in San Francisco. Charlie TeGantvoort left Santa Ana to take the Marina coaching job; and Lance Neal left Loara to take the Century coaching job. …

High school coaches change schools for a better opportunity or a fresh challenge. Which is fine. But coaches, don’t gripe when your high school athletes do the same thing.