March 29, 2012 | 01:14 PMThis season, despite key injuries to some top athletes and some roster changes late in the season, the Badger cheer team made it back to the recent state meet at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.
And the local girls didn't disappoint.
Second-year coach Liz Webster's bunch rose to the occasion, taking third place in the four-team event. The Badgers missed out on second place by only five points and missed first by 20. Badger placed third last season as well.
Sussex Hamilton won state, and Oak Creek was second.
At the individual meet, which was also at the Alliant Energy Center Feb. 25, a standout cheerleader made history.
Badger sophomore Leah Foltman had a banner day, placing in the top 11 out of 53 girls. It was the first Badger girl to make the all-state team, which includes 11 athletes.
Webster said Foltman made up her 1-1/2 minute routine which included dancing, tumbling and jumping with a music portion. Foltman did her own choreography.
"Leah did a phenomenal job," Webster said. "I'm so proud of her. Her natural spirit and talent and energy is high. She has a very genuine smile and enjoys what she's doing."
The team competed in the medium varsity category, which consisted of schools with 1,300 or more students and 12 to 19 athletes. Fifteen Badgers competed. Webster said it was a step up in competition.
"The girls did an outstanding job," Webster said. "I'm really proud of them."
The team performed a 2-1/2 minute-routine, which incorporated a cheer portion and a 1-1/2-minute music portion with stunts, tumble passes, dancing and jumps.
Webster said almost the full team, 11 of 15 girls, executed a synchronized toe touch backhandspring, a difficult move.
"It's rare when you have a team perform this so well," she said. "The timing was perfect. The girls wanted to make sure they brought everything they had to the meet. They worked toward this all season."
Webster said the stunts had a high degree of difficulty. They performed tik-ups, where a girl starts on her right foot, is tossed in the air and lands on the top of the stunt on her left foot.
Webster was impressed that her girls hit all three tik-up sequences.
"We did a fantastic job," she said. "Our theme was 'leave it all on the mat, because there's no looking back.' The girls did that without a shadow of a doubt."
Bumps along the way
Webster said this season's success was anything but easy.
She said a couple girls quit the team a couple weeks before regionals, but the team still managed second place.
Also, senior captain Katelyn Gamache and Cortney Stetter suffered injuries during the season.
"They still showed plenty of support," Webster said.
Courtney Hayes was another senior captain for a team that featured six seniors. Webster said it was a tight-knit group.
"The bond this year was great," she said. "There was team bonding over the summer. The freshmen were hanging with the seniors. They were family and were like sisters."
The season starts in June and ends in March. Tryouts for next season are already this week, March 20 through 23.
Webster said she will miss this year's seniors, and she is hoping for some new girls to "wow" her at the tryouts.
"We're looking to get girls with tumbling experience," Webster said. "It's not a requirement, but it is helpful. We want good personalities. Our numbers get better and better every year. The program is definitely headed in the right direction."