WARSAW – Even if its just for a month, a handful of girls in Warsaw can say they are the best in the country.
Midwest Xtreme’s Small Senior Level 4 Division all-star cheer team, as well as the youth Prep Division small team program, have both been tabbed as the No. 1-ranked cheer programs in the country after competitions for the month of November. After barnstorming the JAMfest competitions in Indianapolis in mid November, Midwest Xtreme took home a staggering four division championships. Among them was the C4 senior title, which would up scoring the highest among all competition teams in the country, thus vaulting the ten-member squad to the top of the rankings.
The wins guaranteed the teams entry into the US Finals in March, competing against the best of the best.
And, oh what a feeling it was.
“I honestly was shocked,” said C4 head coach Russell Ridley, who himself was a competition cheer member for several years, including for Ball State University. “I got a text from Tim (Sammons, owner of Midwest Xtreme), and my mouth just dropped. I was in complete shock.
“They just hit everything,” continued Ridley of his team’s performance in Indianapolis. “They did as well as anyone could have expected. After the first stunt sequence, I knew it was going to be a special performance.”
The United States All Star Federation, the governing body for competition cheer, oversees all of the cheer programs across the country, to which Midwest Xtreme became a member in 2010. The facility, located on the corner of CR 150 W and US 30, opened in October of 2010 as a vision of the Sammons family.
The organization was rough in the early going, explained Sammons, who felt after a year into the gig, needed a new direction.
“At first, it was a total disaster. We were so new,” Sammons said. “We didn’t know what we were really doing. By the end of the second year, we reached out to the Maryland Twisters. We had some diamonds in the rough, but we needed direction.”
The Twisters, one of the premier cheer programs in the country, has over 500 members and closets full of competition trophies. For the program at Midwest Xtreme, asking the pros was humbling but just what they needed. With the changes came a new choreographer, new music production, and a new feeling.
“We didn’t know any better,” Sammons said. “Getting their help changed everything. We just took off from there.”
At the end of year two, Midwest’s senior team was ranked 141st out of 143 teams nationally. One year later with the help of the Twisters, Midwest jumped to 11th. Now in its fourth year, the team has reached number one. But don’t think this group has plateaued.
“We just have to go back to work,” Ridley said without hesitation. “We have a lot of things we can clean up in our performances. We can always add more creativity. If we stay the same, we’ll get passed pretty easily.”
For the competitors, the feeling is mutual.
“We knew (JAMfest) was huge for us, and it would help push us to the next level as a team,” said C4 senior member Cassie Griffith. “In order for us to reach our goals, we were going to have to come together, encourage each other and work as hard as we could.”
Midwest Xtreme is currently home to 76 students from 14 school corporations in the surrounding area. Teams range from competitors three years of age to 18, and host several levels of performance. Midwest also offers hip hop/dance, tumbling classes and gymnastics instruction for pre-school to 18-year-olds.