Albuquerque — Although fewer people occupied the Pit this year due to capacity restrictions for the New Mexico Activities Association 2021 Spirit Competition, energy was still high as teams from across New Mexico competed for the coveted state championship rings.

The cheer and dance state competition, typically held in March and filled to the brim with parents, friends and other spirit supporters saw heavy competition especially in the 5A Cheer and 5A Dance categories.

Valencia County high schools may not have taken home any of the large trophies, but they still put their best foot forward after a year of uncertainty due to state regulations surrounding COVID-19.

Valencia High School cheer came close to placing in the 4A cheer category, coming in fourth place with 153.90 points. Taos took home the blue with a score of 169.45, followed by Goddard and Artesia.

Belen High School placed seventh out of the 12 teams in the same section after they were unable to recover their pyramid to round out their cheer with music routine.

In the 5A-Co Ed cheer category, Las Cruces High School took the top spot scoring 156.40 — leaps and bounds ahead of second place West Mesa who scored 140.65 points. Los Lunas Cheer came in 5th place overall with 138.05 points.

Makayla Grijalva | News-Bulletin photo
Valencia High School performs their game day routine on the morning of Friday, May 14 at the 2021 NMAA Spirit competition. Valencia placed fourth in the 4A all-girl cheer category with a score of 153.90.

After a strong jazz routine complete with team fouretté turns, Los Lunas dance placed eighth overall in the highly competitive 5A category with 157.35 points.

Roswell High took the top spot in the category with 182.95 points. Trailing behind the Coyotes was Farmington in second place and Carlsbad in a close third.

Valencia fell to the near bottom of the 4A dance category with a score of 129.28 — scoring only higher than Taos and Aztec high schools who both only performed one out of the two possible routines.

Hope Christan blew the category out of the water, scoring 178 points total, followed by St. Pius in second and Gallup in third.

Other standout performances in the Saturday dance competition were Atrisco Heritage who used their jazz routine to bring awareness to Missing Murdered Indigenous Women and human trafficking by revealing a red handprint on their masks in the final moment of their routine.

They took home fourth place in 5A.

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Makayla Grijalva was born and raised in Las Cruces. She is a 2020 graduate of The University of New Mexico, where she studied multimedia journalism, political science and history. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, SODA and the town of Peralta.