Auburn celebrates state champions

Athletes from Auburn’s three schools were celebrated outside of city hall on Monday.

At around 5 p.m. March 21, a crowd of community members and city leaders cheered as three buses full of student-athletes drove up to City Hall Plaza in Auburn.

Each bus was for one of Auburn’s three high schools, and were decorated with hand-painted signs that said things like “state champs.” Athletes from each high school earned the title of state champions this winter season.

The athletes got off the buses and were greeted by cheers from the community before lining up on the steps of City Hall.

“We are so very proud. There are more exceptional students than you see here, but today we are honoring these amazing athlete scholars and I couldn’t be prouder,” Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus said.

The state champions from Auburn include Auburn High School’s boys basketball team, Auburn Mountainview High School’s cheer team and individual swimming champion, Auburn Riverside High School’s cheer team and individual wrestler.

After Backus said a few words of encouragement, the coaches and team captains of each sport spoke about the season and their respective victories. The first team captain to speak was Tre Blassingame from the Auburn boys basketball team.

“I’d like to thank you all for being here for this celebration. The support and love we’ve received as a team throughout this entire journey has truly made us feel special,” Blassingame said.

Blassingame continued to thank everyone who came to Auburn High School basketball games and the coaches for guiding the team and believing in their abilities. Blassingame ended his speech by saying “RIP Bobby.” He was referring to Bobby Vogel, who was the basketball team manager for nearly two decades before he died in September 2021.

Auburn Riverside High School’s athletes were introduced at the celebration, starting with Cole Cross, who won the school’s fourth state championship in wrestling. Cross said it was an awesome experience to achieve a goal he’d been working toward for 10 years.

After Cross spoke, Riverside’s cheer team was recognized for winning the game day small state championship. Coach Anastasia Campbell, who started coaching the team four years ago, spoke about the ups and downs the team faced this season.

“This group of cheerleaders, if I had one word to describe them, I think it would be outstanding. Every single one of these cheerleaders put in countless hours and they missed get-togethers with their friends and families to really show that they love this team,” Campbell said.

Auburn Mountainview High School athletes were recognized after the Riverside cheer team did one of their cheer routines. Mountainview’s David Le won the state championship in the boys 50-yard freestyle adaptive race. Coach Dawson Orcutt spoke about the victory.

“This is my first year coaching for the Mountainview swim team and I have to say it was one of the best experiences of my life,” Orcutt said. “Overall we got third in districts and we ended up getting eighth in the state, but by and large the best achievement we had was David Le’s 50 adaptive freestyle and backstroke championship.”

Le spoke about how his mom made him swim as a kid and he hated it, but as he grew older, he grew into the sport. Le thanked Orcutt for coaching him and said he hopes he wins state again next year.

The final team to get acknowledged was Mountainview’s cheer team, who not only won the game day medium state championship, but also the national championship.

Head coach Shana Biggs spoke to the team’s accomplishments.

“They have been working on this dream of winning nationals for some of these girls all four years, and with the pandemic there were setbacks. We were practicing on Zoom, believe it or not,” Biggs said. “I am just so proud of them and all that they have done.”

After Mountainview’s cheer team did one of their routines, the teams posed in front of the entrance to City Hall with the mayor and other city officials.