Hilltop seniors get a cheerful CIF send-off

Hilltop High School captured the San Diego Section’s 2019 Small School Division I cheer championship.

The 2019-20 interscholastic term has ended and it was a bountiful harvest for Sweetwater Union High School District schools and their student-athletes.

New territory was blazed, including the crowning of first-time San Diego Section champions.

The 2019 San Diego Section cheerleading championships took place Dec. 7 at Carlsbad High School with more than 40 squads in attendance.

The event proved to be an early Christmas present for Hilltop High School, which brought some respect home to South County by winning the Division I small schools team championship.

Competitive cheer has been recognized by the California Interscholastic Federation for three years. The San Diego Section held its inaugural cheer championship in January 2018 at Montgomery High School.

Cheer champions also included Granite Hills (Division I large schools), Poway (Division II large schools), Cathedral Catholic (Division II small schools), Grossmont (Division III large schools), Del Norte (Division III small schools), El Camino (Game Day), Southwest El Centro (Coed), West Hills (Coed non-tumbling) and Our Lady of Peace Academy (Non-tumbling).

Granite Hills repeated as a division champion. Granite Hills repeated as a division champion.

“This team put their heart and soul into competing and representing Hilltop cheer,” said Hilltop head coach Maria Ruggeri-Torres, who has coached the team for 26 years. “Amazing group of kids, proud to be their coach.”

Team co-captain Valerie Gurule-Metzig, a member of the school’s 2020 graduating class and one of eight seniors on the team, was thrilled by the outcome.

“To be a co-captain on Hilltop’s first competition team was an amazing experience,” she said. “I will remember this for the rest of my life.”

Katelyn Salts had plenty to cheer about after being named Hilltop’s 2019 homecoming queen.

The CIF team championship was doubly memorable for Hilltop senior Katelyn Salts, who also earned honors as the school’s homecoming queen.

The team’s seniors also included Madeira Kirschenman, Kaylee Latson, Alexa Macias, Bella Ricasa, Brooke Suwczinsky and Sean West.

Other team members included junior Ayanna Rodriguez, sophomores Kajsa Ahlin Martin and Bella Gurule-Metzig and freshmen Kylie Bospflug, Denisse Cadena-Estrella, Chloe Hampton, Kassandra Moreno and Samantha Valencia.

Hilltop also won the CIF All-Academic team award with an overall 3.16 grade-point average for the South region.