Keaau squad earns a sweet ‘surreal’ victory


Keaau High’s 15-member cheerleading squad brought home the school’s fifth Big Island Interscholastic Federation championship title Wednesday night.

As defending BIIF champions, the Cougars stole the show with a 308.5 overall score at Koaia Gym. The Waiakea Warriors came in second with a 301.5. Both squads will travel to Honolulu Nov. 16 for the state cheerleading competition. Hilo High came in third, scoring 280 points, followed by the Kamehameha Warriors, with 233.5 points.

“I’m just so proud of them,” said Cougars coach Tonya Baybayan. “We’ve had our ups and downs this year, but they pulled through.”

Assistant coach Jamie Yoneda described the announcement as “surreal.”

“Last year was the first time we’ve ever won a championship, and this is one of very few for the entire high school,” she said. “They did a great job.”

Cougars captain and senior Brianna Cadaoas was all smiles after hearing the news.

“It feels really good to hold down the title,” she said. “We’ve had to work for it. We’ve lost people and gained people this year so it’s been a battle.”

Iris McGuire, Keaau’s athletic director and the league cheer coordinator, assisted in the competition Wednesday and said she wasn’t surprised with the results.

“I have a lot of confidence in my team. … I’ve seen these girls work hard every day,” she said. “These girls were really committed and went the extra mile to get this huge accomplishment.”

Waiakea coach Lody Switzer commended her team for their hard work throughout the season. Her daughter, Tessi Switzer, assisted in creating the Warriors’ routine for the competition and described it as a rewarding creative process.

“You start with the skill set that they offer you, and try to pick something that means something to them so they feel the music and from there, just create,” she said.

“It’s very satisfying to see all the hours you put in pay off.”