10 straight for SHS cheer team
At last week’s Wisconsin Association of Cheer and Pom Coaches (WACPC) Northern Regional Championships, the Spartans competed in the coed stunting division for the first time in school history.
Superior came up just short of a state berth with its stunting routine, but the Spartans advanced in the cheer dance small division to give them a 10th consecutive trip to state.
“We actually were very, very, very close to placing at regionals for our coed routine,” SHS coach Amy McCusker said. “For a first-year coed team, that’s really great. All the teams that did place have been coed for many years, and we’re just kind of learning.”
The WACPC State Cheer Championships are Saturday at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. Superior’s cheer dance team, which is not coed, is scheduled to compete at 9:12 a.m.
Members of the Spartan competition team are: seniors Brittany Kucinski and Joe Tenney; juniors Bailley Biwer, Misty Carre, Samantha Doller, Logan Griffith and Sara Magdzas; sophomores Aleigha Anderson, Questan Barker and Taylor Zambory; and freshmen Rachel Lundeen and Kylee Maccoux.
The Spartans won’t need to worry about stunts and tumbling at state. In cheer dance, the focus is on precision and synchronization. Judges look for sharp routines with flawless timing.
McCusker said the Spartans have fun choreography in their routine this year.
“One thing they look for is ripples, so we’ve got a lot of those, and kicks and jump combinations,” McCusker said.
“I think our routine is really cute,” said Kucinski, Superior’s senior captain. “It’s got a lot of new moves that aren’t typical for what are considered cheerleading moves, so it’s tough to keep those really sharp.”
The Spartans had to rework their cheer dance routine weeks before the regional competition when junior captain Magdzas broke her arm. McCusker said it was a scramble to bring the piece together on time, but the team rose to the occasion.
“I think this team has a great mix of not just the girls but the boys and our personalities,” Magdzas said. “We don’t really have any clashing personalities on this team. I think we all get along quite well, and really this is probably the best year in my opinion that I’ve had for cheerleading since I joined the team.”
The Spartans needed that team chemistry as they took on the challenges of coed competition this season.
Kucinski said integrating the boys into routines was a learning experience because the team started from scratch.
Four boys competed with the Spartan cheer squad this season: seniors Alex Ericksen, Joe Tenney and Jeff Troyer and junior Logan Griffith. Troyer and Griffith actually joined the team late last season, but this was Superior’s first year to train as a proper coed team for the entire year.
The Spartans began learning new coed stunts and throws in May and put a stronger emphasis on their stunting routine.
“They really progressed in that and surpassed what I thought we’d be able to get to this year,” McCusker said. “Hopefully the one remaining boy (Griffith) will find some friends to join with him next year. I think it’s a lot different than people expect.”
That was certainly the case for Tenney. He joined the cheer team on a bet.
“Whoever lost had to go try out for the cheer team,” Tenney said. “I lost. Then I got here and it turned out, it was fun.”
Tenney wasn’t sure what to expect, and he was surprised by the degree of athleticism required.
“It’s a lot more intense than people would think,” he said. “We are just beat at the end of a competition.”
Troyer has been with the team since last season. He joined after one of the cheerleaders asked him to try out — but not before making a deal with Griffith to join together.
“It’s definitely a new experience,” Troyer said. “I’ve enjoyed it. Logan and I were the first two to join last year in the middle of the competition season, and we’ve had a lot of fun doing it. It’s definitely harder and more fun than people think it is.”
Troyer said he actually regrets not joining sooner, and he encouraged freshmen to get an early start by trying out.
“It’s not just a girls’ sport anymore,” Magdzas said. “It’s kind of given me a new perspective on cheerleading. The guys make it a lot of fun, and I do think it prepares the cheerleaders who would like to go on to a collegiate cheer team.”
SPARTAN SPIN: Another first for Superior was entering into junior varsity competitions this year. Superior had been restricted to just a varsity team in the past, but both varsity and JV teams competed at meets in Edina, Coon Rapids and Eau Claire. … Katie Latscher is the assistant coach for the Spartan cheer team.