Hoover cheer team members senior Kaila Todd, senior Sara Hammer, junior Charina Gundlach, all 17, and junior Stephanie Bautista, 16, won the stunt team competition in which aerial stunts are performed.
"It was very exciting and it was a different opportunity," said Todd, the senior co-captain of the cheer team. "We've never really been around that kind of competitive cheer ... so it makes me want to work harder and do better."
Moreno said Hoover had a strong pep program when she attended but it had fallen on lean times.
"It's the first time in a long time," said Moreno, referring to the team's placement during the competition. "We were one of the best when I was there but over the years things have changed a lot. They beat Glendale [High School] in one of the divisions and Glendale is an awesome team right now."
The Hoover team of junior Nicolette Bacon, 16; junior Kajaul Mostofi, 16; sophomore Nora Bedrossian, 16; and sophomore Maral Hovasapian, 15; finished second in the duo-trio dance and small ensemble competitions.
Nicolette, a team captain, said dedication to the team has to be strong. Team members practice two hours before school starts, cheer at football and basketball games and each girl had to raise $400 to go to the competition.
"I consider it to be a competitive spirit because we do compete and we also train just like any other team," Bacon said. "I joined the team as a freshman and I've been dancing since I was 4 years old and also made captain my second year on the team. Dancing allows me to express myself, which I find hard to do. If I'm upset or angry and I want to get it all out I can do it in a constructive manner."
Anita Bacon, Nicolette's mother and a 1974 Hoover graduate, said things have changed since she was on the drill team.
"We went to one competition and I wish we had the opportunity to dance," Anita Bacon said. "They have so much more available to them than we did and a better coach. I'm jealous."
But as dedicated as the girls are, it actually helps them succeed in school.
"It's given her something that's taking up her time, so that keeps her out of trouble and she has a lot of really good friends," said Anita Bacon, whose younger daughter, Bridget, a 13-year-old Tull Middle School student, will try out for the team next year. "Sometimes it can get in the way because there's a lot of stuff going on but they are driven girls. There are no slackers."
* VINCE LOVATO covers business and politics. He may be reached at (818) 637-3215 or by e-mail at vincent.lovatolatimes.com.