Wolverine cheerleaders capture ECC Class S title

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Tue., Feb. 28, 2012
Griswold cheerleaders perform an arabesque in competition. - Contributed Photo

Griswold’s cheerleading squad brought back its fifth straight Eastern Connecticut Conference trophy Feb. 25, placing first among the five Class S teams at the ECC tournament at Norwich Free Academy.

The win earns the squad a place at the state championships, which will take place in New Haven March 10.

Head coach Melissa Dupont, who has been leading the team for 12 years, said her girls’ biggest strength is showmanship. She said she starts working at the beginning of the school year on a competitive routine of two minutes and 30 seconds duration, then uses elements from that routine in the much shorter routines the girls perform at other athletic games and meets.

“We practice a lot and we try to incorporate our performance into our cheering at athletic events,” she said. “The students are used to performing in front of people. Though we push them, we don’t push them so far that they’re doing anything they’re not technically ready for. It’s a solid performance by the time of our competition.”

Besides showmanship, Dupont said that competitive cheering teams are judged on dance elements, partnering, jumps, tumbling and overall performances, as well as sportsmanship. Her Wolverine squad came away from the ECC championship with a tally of 149.5 points, higher than any of the 14 other teams competing in all three divisions.

The squad, which usually numbers 19 cheerleaders, was down by three for the ECCs due to the school music department’s annual trip, said Dupont. Her seven seniors serve as co-captains. Senior Shelby Jordan has been on the team since freshman year; the rest of the seniors – Macy Merry, Ashlie LaCroix, Maranda Veins, Brianna Lattin, Ajia Zimmerman and Kate Nagel - joined as sophomores. Dupont’s assistant coach is Melissa Gil.

Due to Griswold High School’s small size, it’s impossible to recruit enough cheerleaders for two separate teams for performance and cheering at athletic events, said Dupont. “During football season I take all the freshmen and combine them into one large team, so the freshmen can learn from the upperclassmen,” she said.

Three Wolverine cheerleaders – LaCroix, Leslie Williams and Deanna Edgar – were named ECC All-Stars, and Lattin earned an honorable mention.

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