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Volume 90, Issue 85

Thursday, March 06, 1997



Cheer squad topples America

©Geoff Robins/Gazette
WHEN YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO IT, YOU CAN DO ALMOST ANY. . . OUCH, MY LEG! The Western cheerleaders did not have to put an injured Mustang to sleep after they won the NCAA championships last week.

By Alex Chiang

Gazette Staff

Last week Western's pep squad showcased its spirit and athleticism south of the border in the United Performance Association's American Cheerleading Championships in Minnesota. Determined to win the school's second NCAA title, the Mustangs did not disappoint, claiming both the collegiate and overall titles. Winning this time however, was no easy task.

In preliminary competition, Mark Ideson tore both his medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments when a female teammate landed on his knee while doing a one-handed stunt called a cupee. Ideson managed to pull himself off the floor and complete the routine hobbling on one leg. It was reminiscent of American gymnast Keri Strug's heroics, that should have seen Ideson on the front page of Sports Illustrated.

"During the performance we thought Mark just fell down," team captain Paul Ruscica said. "We didn't know he was hurt, so we were all yelling at him to get up and he did."

"It was pretty tough finishing but I had to," Ideson said. "Everyone was yelling at me."

Once the team realized the extent of Ideson's injury, coach David Lee Tracy had to recreate the formations to compensate for the loss.

"We had to spend the rest of the day re-adjusting because the rules don't allow substitutes," Tracy said. "Luckily Mark's injury didn't come back to haunt us. It was ugly but we got to the finals."

Changing the formations meant some of the inexperienced members of the Mustang squad had only 24 hours to perform tasks they had never done before.

"We had to do the same routine with fewer people," Mustang veteran Steve Groat said. "Our rookies really stepped up and showed their ability and character."

In the end, Western showed its determination to succeed in the face of adversity, winning its second NCAA championship in three years.

Finishing second and third in the 10-team collegiate divisions were Wisconsin and Maryland.

In the overall division, which incorporated high schools and all-star clubs, hometown favourites Lac Qui Parle High School and the Memphis Elite All-Stars made the podium.

"I was surprised we won the overall title since I expected one of the high schools to take it," Tracy said. "We probably won because of our high degree of difficulty and strong technical component."

Although many of the team's male members are not returning, the NCAA meet showed that the team has an abundance of young talent.

"I see rookies doing things that I couldn't do in my first year," Groat said. "Coach Tracy is great at cultivating talent, so I'm sure the team will be strong again next year."

To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1997