Windsor ready to put up its Lady Dukes!

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 22, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

At the Tri-Rivers District cheerleading tournament on Nov. 6, friends and family of the Windsor cheering squad crowded into Franklin High School to watch their girls show the Lady Duke spirit that had brought six consecutive championships to the Isle of Wight High School. Enthused by the merrimaking crowd, the girls in blue, white and gold shouted, tumbled, backflipped, cartwheeled, and danced their way to their lucky seventh straight title.

Little did the visitors know, however, that they were the first to see the act in its entirety. Why? Because the Lady Dukes had been unable to perform it at their local gym.

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&uot;We need a 40 x 40 mat to do our tumbling and gymnastics,&uot; said coach Dawn Carroll, in her eighth year of leading the girls. &uot;We don’t have one, so we had to use our imagination.&uot; During practice routines, the girls who did extensive gymnastics at the district tournament would typically just hop up and down, envisioning themselves doing the routines.

Cheerers like Kriston Cobb, who

has been doing gymnastics since her much younger years, had something of an advantage. &uot;Districts were a lot harder (than practice),&uot; the senior said, &uot;because at practice we just walked through our routines. At districts, we didn’t have time to do that.&uot; Their methods were effective enough; the girls won the right to ply their skills at regional competition, which was held Nov. 13 at Walker Grant Middle School in Fredericks-burg. Cobb was the Most Valuable District cheerer, and she, Jessica Erwin and Lindsay Speight were all named to the First All-District team

By regionals, Cobb said, &uot;we felt a lot better, because we’d practiced so much.&uot;

Feeling that the regional judges would place heavy importance on tumbling and gymnastics, the Lady Dukes (who had never placed higher than third at regional competition) added some physicality to their routine. It was up to inexperienced flyers like Valencia Coston to come through in the clutch (and soaring through the air).

&uot;When I was on junior varsity, I spent about half my time flying and half basing (bases are the cheerleaders that hoist flyers into the air),&uot; said Coston, a senior and two-year varsity cheer squad veteran. &uot;When you first start (tumbling), you fall a lot, but then you learn to trust yourself. At first, I didn’t feel like I could hold myself up on back handsprings and cartwheels, but I know it pretty well now.&uot; So did the rest of the squad; at the regionals, they sent the northern Virginia crowd straight into Windsor-pride-filled hysterics!

But they hadn’t won anything yet. While the judges tallied up the scores, the eight squads entertained the crowd with renditions of &uot;YMCA&uot; and the &uot;Cha-Cha Slide.&uot; Erwin tried to maintain her composure.

&uot;I knew we had done well, but we didn’t really expect to win,&uot; she said. &uot;A lot of the other teams had improved a lot.&uot;

Finally, the verdict was in. King William was fourth (the top four teams would trek to state), James Monroe third. Then West Point, last year’s state champion, was awarded second place.

&uot;The announcer kept dragging it out,&uot; Erwin said. &uot;We were all holding hands and telling him, ‘Say it! Say it!’&uot; When he did, it was the best news they could have imagined; Windsor had brought home its first regional title.

&uot;Everybody just went crazy,&uot; said Erwin, who along with Cobb was named to the First All-Regional team (Cobb was the regional MVP). &uot;The fans all came running down out of the bleachers, and everybody was hugging and crying.&uot;

Today, the team will head north to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond to take on the rest of the Old Dominion’s best. According to Speight, they couldn’t possibly be more ready.

&uot;The rest of the state better watch out!&uot; she vowed, &uot;because we’re all in this together! This is our year to win!&uot;