WILMOT — With a regional title under its belt, the Badger varsity cheerleading team is headed to state.
The Badgers, helmed by coach Lizzie Paciga, bested five other teams and claimed a first-place finish during Saturday’s regional tournament at Wilmot, earning them the opportunity to take the mat at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison.
The squad consists of five seniors, Carly Bakken, Julia Theisen, Georgia Irwin, Suzie Condos and Maddie Pacholczak; two juniors, Jaya Genrich and Meakenna Ludtke; 10 sophomores, including Emma Wade, Nicole Hartig, Savannah Schneider, Makayla Heinzleman, Lindsey Robertson, Maddie Schanz, Colleen Wall, Rachel Snead, Olivia Mecklenburg, Karolina Jurczyk; and freshmen Avery Klein and Ashleigh Vance.
And Paciga said the team hit its best routine of the season on Saturday, adding that she felt that the regional championship reflected her athletes’ hard work.
“We have some tough competition in the Medium Cheer Division, and that is what makes it so much more rewarding,” the Badger coach said.
However, the season didn’t start off so smooth. Paciga, who had been coaching Badger’s JV team, was forced to take over as head varsity coach when the former coach stepped down.
And instead of having two teams, Paciga opted to combine the JV and varsity squads.
“Not everyone was on board for this idea, but I knew that this would be the right decision for the Badger Cheer program,” she wrote in an email. “The competition stats just proved everyone wrong that didn’t believe in us.”
Prior to winning regionals, the team earned a third-place finish at conference, second at both the iCheer and Brookfield Blast competitions and were named the grand champions at East Troy.
“These girls deserve every bit of this win,” Paciga said. “From practicing every day from two to three hours, and also putting in extra work on the weekends.”
Paciga added that being on a cheer team takes dedication, passion and hard work, all of which her athletes displayed throughout the season.
The Badger’s stunt quad also brought home a third-place finish at regionals, and will be performing at state as well.