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Winning tradition continues for cheer squad

BECOMING A POWER - The Badger cheer squad took third at the Division 2 state meet last month in Green Bay. It was the team's fourth straight appearance in the state's top three, including second place the last three years. Here are the girls who competed at state: Tori Gallo, Syndey Davis, Allison Paleka, Taylor Robinson, Sydney Meek, Olivia Petrillo, Meagan Caudill, Hannah Burgmeier, Shelby Peck, Courtney Stetter, Ciara Johnson, Courtney Hayes, Bailey Jastrab, Samantha Galles, Kiera Beak, Hailee Siegler, Lea Foltman, Alex Wulf, Morgan Fitzsimmons, Jasmine Kincaid and Katelyn Gamache
March 23, 2011 | 08:36 AM
Former Badger cheer coach Leslie Abruzzo didn't need a whole lot of convincing to recommend her successor.

After working with the junior varsity cheer squad for a couple weeks last year, Liz Lass made a good case to take over as head coach. Abruzzo believed Lass could take the girls to the next level.

Lass, a former cheer coach in Antioch, Ill., lived up to her billing, leading the girls to a third-place finish Feb. 26 at the Division 2 state meet in Green Bay. The tradition continues, as Badger placed in the top three at state for the fourth straight year. The girls took second each of the last three years.

Badger competed in the medium varsity division with 19 girls, 15 of whom had no prior varsity experience. Lass said her team overcame adversity to shine at state.

"It was phenomenal how we pulled together last-minute," Lass said. "When we signed up for state, we had 23 girls and we were going to be in the large varsity division. But about a month before state, we had to drop down to medium due to injuries and a couple of girls quitting. To have 15 girls who had never been on varsity and still take third at state, it was a huge accomplishment."

A stellar season

Lass formed a bond with her girls in her first season.

Workouts began in June, including practice five days a week since August.

The girls and Lass had good chemistry on and off the court, and they even threw their coach a bridal shower last weekend.

"We put in a lot of work and a lot of hours," Lass said. "I couldn't have asked for a better team. I introduced some different stunts and some new cheers this year. The girls were an amazing bunch and were entertaining to say the least. I'm so proud they were able to fight through hardships. They are all friends and are already asking about next year."

Badger took third place at regionals to qualify for state. They also grabbed second at conference. Also, they won first place at the Brookfield and Oak Creek meets. The Badgers also captured first place for the individual category at the Brookfield meet.

Lass said the girls are judged on their routines, cheering, crowd leading and spirit among other things.

"Our spirit is huge," she said. "When we're at games, we're there to lead the crowd. We had an awesome year, and we did very well at our competitions."

Individually, Lass praised the efforts of senior Taylor Robinson, junior Courtney Hayes and freshman Leah Foltman.

Lass said although the team had no captains, these three stepped up as leaders and all provided "phenomenal energy."

Robinson was the team's lone senior.

"I will really miss Taylor," Lass said. "She was one of our best fliers. She had a great attitude and was a great leader."

Lass said it's hard for a freshman to have success on varsity, but Foltman broke the mold.

"Her energy was captivating," she said. "Leah has an all-around great attitude."

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