The Dassel-Cokato cheer team has been pulling double-duty in November.
The girls have started their competition season, and have been on the sidelines supporting the DC football team on their amazing run to the state championship.
“There were two football playoff games where we competed in the morning, then drove to the game to cheer. The girls put in over twelve hours each day, but the excitement around the football team made it easier for them to keep their energy up,” said head coach Justin Larson.
Just like the football team, the cheer team has had a successful start to their season. They earned a bid to Nationals for the second time in the last five years.
The cheerleaders competed at a regional event on October 30th, and placed third in the Game Day division behind Prior Lake HS and Coon Rapids HS.
“Our scores in our Game Day routine were the highest we’ve ever had, which put us right in the mix with some of those large metro schools. Our team wasn’t intimidated, performed a great routine and earned enough points to be awarded a bid to Nationals. Coach Kate and myself were so proud to see their hard work pay off,” said Larson.
The Game Day division mimics a football sideline environment, where the teams perform a dance to a song, a quick offense or defense cheer, a longer timeout cheer, and their school song. With the football team scoring so many touchdowns this year, the girls have had plenty of practice with their offense cheers and the school song.
“We’ve done the school song quite a bit this year. LOL. The nice thing about the Game Day division is that the girls have worked on skills that our fans can see and hear every game. I’m hoping to continue to help the girls improve and build up our game day experience for our fans in the coming years,” Larson said.
The 2021-2022 team is packed with youth.
The team is led by Senior captain Paige Sullivan and Junior Morgan Bekkala, and they make up two out of the three upperclassmen on a team of twenty eight.
“We have a lot of youth, which looks good for our future. All my Varsity top girls, Kenzie, McKenna and Evelyn, are freshmen, and one of my stunt groups on Varsity has two 8th graders, Hannah and Payton. They all have done such an amazing job this year. They definitely don’t look like 8th graders on the sidelines or at competitions,” Larson said.
Larson is back for his seventh season as head coach, and is assisted by Coach Kate Miller.
The cheer program also gets a ton of support from Coach Amanda Berg, who guides their strength program. The cheer team lifts twice per week from mid-August, all the way through January. Under Coach Berg’s guidance, the teams have added the strength needed to perform more physically demanding stunts, while also decreasing the amount of injuries the girls have had.
“Practices can be pretty tough. We go from lifting weights in the weightroom to lifting cheerleaders at practice. You can definitely see how their strength grows throughout the season,” said Larson.
Members of the team who earned a Nationals bid in the Game Day division are senior Paige Sullivan, juniors Morgan Bekkala and Kailee Lieske, sophomores Maddie Epple, Faith McNair, Mayte Flores, and Gabby Williams, freshmen Kai Pascua, Saraven Christensen, Layna Ernst, Sydney Johnson, McKenna Kunkel, Evelyn Bonnifield, Hailey Persons and Kenzie Yager, and 8th graders Hannah Rieger, Payton Hayford, Skyler Schwanke, and Joselynn Mendoza.