Fifteen years ago Shiniqua and Sierra Gist were doing cartwheels and toe touches on the sidelines of recreation league football games. After a while the pair moved on to round-offs and basket tosses which evolved to handsprings and back tucks. While some things may change, others stay the same. For sisters like the Gist girls, competition is always welcome.
Shiniqua and Sierra were on the sidelines together at Union County High School until Shiniqua’s graduation in 2010 when she enrolled at Limestone College and became a member of the Saints’ competitive cheer leading team. Sierra graduated from UCHS the following year and joined her sister at Limestone before transferring to Newberry where is a cheerleader for the Wolves.
When the siblings took the competition mat for “The Clash of the Carolinas” on Sunday, they had the same goal in mind — to earn a first place Co-Ed Division Championship — but for the first time in their lives they were on opposing teams.
“I told Sierra at the beginning of the competition that Limestone was ready and that we were going to bring it,” said Shiniqua. “But I also gave her a big hug because I am really proud of her. When she was at Limestone she was scared to “fly” and now at Newberry she is doing everything, even being on top of the pyramid.”
Both girls have added some skills to their cheer leading resumes since high school. Sierra’s “Rewind” and back tuck basket impressed judges on Sunday while Shiniqua earned points for her team when she stuck a “Scorpion,” a “Scale,” and an “Arabesque” at the extension level.
“I didn’t get to see Newberry’s routine because we were warming up when they went on,” said Shiniqua. “I’ve seen them compete before though and I knew we had to bring everything we had to the mat because they’re good.”
Although both Newberry and Limestone’s high flying routines were crowd pleasing, at the end of the day, it was Sierra and the Wolves who claimed first place with a score of 232. Newberry was also named Grand Champions, outscoring all eight teams in the competition.
Shiniqua and the Limestone Saints came up just two points behind Newberry. Their 230 points total was good enough for a first runner-up finish in the Co-Ed Division.
The older sibling received a little good-natured ribbing from her younger sister after the announcements were made.
“I gave her a hard time because I finally beat her at something,” explained Sierra. “She might say “It was just two points,” but those two points counted and the best team won.”
Shiniqua said she expected Sierra to give her a hard time if Newberry got the win and as it turned out she didn’t have to wait long.
“She came running over to talk junk right after they won,” said Shiniqua with a laugh. “I told her that when she starts ‘stunting’ like her big sister can, then she can talk.”
That’s one of those things they’ll just have to agree to disagree on.