Cheer on: Youth cheer teams compete in Las Vegas international event

RIO HONDO — Local youth cheerleaders were in Las Vegas this past weekend showing off their cheers, flips, pyramids and stunts at the Battle Royale International Cheer competition.

“They are so excited to be going this far,” said Jessica Gonzalez, the team coach. “They worked really, really hard to get here.”

The cheer squad is made up of two teams. There are 10 girls on the junior team and three on the other. They competed in their age divisions at the MGM Grand Hotel against teams from around the country in front of hundreds of spectators.

The teams are part of the Rio Hondo Texas Youth Football Association junior competitions cheer team.

“They have been practicing since August and fundraising to raise money to go compete,” Gonzalez said. “Out of the Valley we are the only girls who go this far.”

The girls left the Valley on Thursday and arrived in Las Vegas that evening. The trip will last five days, during which they competed against the best of the best on Saturday and Sunday.

The team is also coming off two first place finishes.

“The skill level changes at each event,” Gonzalez said. “The girls know they will have to pick it up a notch to win in Vegas.”

The team won the state competition held in Corpus Christi in December and also won first place at the South Padre Island Splash competition last weekend.

Getting an invitation to compete in Las Vegas was not as easy as just signing up.

Gonzalez said they had to earn their way to participate at the international level by performing winning routines.

“This is a good experience,” Gonzalez said. “Some of these girls have never traveled outside of the Valley.”

She said being members of the team builds confidence and the girls grow up being better people.

“This experience makes it a little easier for them when they try out for the junior high and varsity cheer teams,” Gonzalez said.