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Friday, December 22, 2000

St. Louis
win competition

By Harold Morse

St. Louis High School cheerleaders were big winners at a Las Vegas cheerleading competition yesterday.

While the 20 girls and two coaches were riding on a trolley, seeing sights on the strip last night, head coach Ipo Chang relayed details by cell phone.

"They won first place in the medium varsity division," she said of her squad of 19 girls ranging from one eighth-grader up through seniors from Sacred Hearts and St. Francis schools. One additional cheerleader, who was injured and could not compete, came on the trip. "We had a handful of parents come up and people from Las Vegas (former Hawaii residents) who supported us," Chang said.

There were a total of 70 squads or more in various divisions at the American Grand National Competition, Chang said. "Coming out of the preliminaries we knew that it was really a tight competition."

Chang said she believes the Hawaii girls unique dancing style helped them win their division.

"They had a lot of showmanship -- precision -- and they were just having a whole lot of fun out there," she said. "They were really unique in their dancing. It's cheerleading, but like booty or hip-hop all combined with cheerleading moves as well."

Chang's assistant coach is her daughter, Sharon, 21, and a senior at the University of Hawaii-Manoa.

Last night's celebratory merrymaking was enjoyed by all. "They're seeing all the different hotels right now," she added. "The girls are really excited and they're happy."

Winnings included a trophy for topping their division and a sportsmanship trophy, which Chang called "the most prestigious trophy." Plus it came with $500 -- which paid for a deluxe meal of prime rib and crab legs at Mandalay Bay Hotel's Bayside Buffet. As she spoke, the girls shouted "prime rib" in the background.

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