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Spirit squad captures conference crown

Story by Sara

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After making back-to-back appearances in the National Dance Alliance Collegiate Championship, the Baker University dance team will be joined by the other half of the spirit squad this April in Daytona Beach, Fla.

By combining the scores of the performances from WOWzer and the dance and cheer teams, the spirit squad earned the overall Heart of America Athletic Conference banner Saturday in Marshall, Mo.

Freshman Michelle Critchfield sticks a stunt with the support of sophomore Emily Amack, senior Kyle Baum and sophomore Tyler Douglass.Callie Paquette

Both the cheer and dance teams also received bids to compete at nationals.

“Sometimes I think the teams get wrapped up in our own team and we sometimes forget that we are a spirit squad,” senior Amanda Tesson said. “So that was a great example of us working hard and working for the same thing, and it really made us feel like a spirit squad when everyone won.”

Despite facing several challenges throughout its preparations, the cheer team took second place in the conference small co-ed division behind Missouri Valley College. WOWzer also earned a second-place finish after finishing behind the Graceland University mascot.

“We have been through a few rough patches with people getting sick and not being able to perform,” Tesson said. “It was really neat that our team was able to come together and work so hard that last month. We put our heart and soul in it and we actually went out there and did really well.”

Head cheer coach Allyssa King said it has been one of the team’s main goals to qualify for the national championships and she is “incredibly proud” of the Wildcats for accomplishing it.

“You could tell the emotion on the team’s face after they competed and knew they did well because they were so excited,” King said. “There were tears of joy and everything afterward. Everybody was just extremely happy.”

As the two-time defending national champions, the dance team is happy to have the cheer team join them in Florida.

“It was really exciting that … the cheerleaders and us all won that because you could tell that all of us worked really hard for it,” junior Maddie Kristoffersen said. “It was really exciting to share that experience with them this year.”

The dance team finished first in the conference for its small dance routine, and while the win has provided confidence for the Wildcats, they know their work is not over.

“I think we need to work on just performing in general and making sure that we all know that it’s a really exciting performance, and that we are there to work hard and have fun at the same time,” Kristoffersen said.

The competition at Missouri Valley also served as a national-qualifier for other NAIA schools, meaning the Wildcats received an additional ranking against teams outside of the HAAC. WOWzer took home a second-place finish while the cheerleaders placed third. The dance team also placed third in the small dance category and fifth for its hip-hop routine.

The National Cheerleaders Association and the National Dance Alliance Collegiate Championships will take place April 10-14, and the Wildcats will use these next couple of months to strengthen their routines and continue fundraising efforts.

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