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Bear cheerleaders bring home state title

The Winnisquam Regional High School cheerleading team won the Division 3 state title on March 12. Courtesy Photo. (click for larger version)
March 20, 2017
TILTON — The Winnisquam Regional High School cheerleading team took home the Division 3 state title on March 12 at Pinkerton Academy, and coach Ryann Despins said she was very proud of how the students came together for the win.

"We had a few little bubbles, little minor mistakes, but so did everybody else," said Despins. "I've been coaching almost 15 years and I usually have an idea, but I really wasn't sure this time because it was so close. But they won and we are really excited."

The cheerleading team is made up of three seniors in Allecia Varney, Britney Dow and Kylie Robbins. There are also four juniors including Amanda O'Leary, Brooke Edmunds, Julie Amico and Victoria LaPorte. The sophomores include McKenzie Ball, Amanda Wickens and Calista Betar. Olivia Dill is the lone freshman on the squad.

Despins said when the judges called Bow as being the second place winner she had a great feeling, as Bow is one of the top cheering squads in the state. She said it then came down between Winnisquam and Campbell and the Winnisquam girls came away as the winners.

"The kids were so pumped," said Despins. "We won by only .4, which is super close in state championships. To compare it, that's like winning by a basket or a field goal."

Despins explained that the team went to the preliminary tournament on March 5 and placed first. She said this was her goal for the event so then they could cheer last in the state championship event the following weekend.

Despins explained that the event is scored through different categories, including stunts, tumbling, dance, jumps and motions. As a coach, she said she has an idea of where they would fall for ranges. She said depending on the day, or the judge, the range can vary as far as score.

There are other small aspects such as timing, formation and overall that Despins said are the ones that win championships. She said in Division 3, most of the teams are in the same ranges of difficulty so they try to execute the smaller categories perfectly to get an edge.

Despins was happy to say that Winnisquam had no points taken off for safety, saying they had a clean event.

"That was great because those are the type of things that can cost you championships," said Despins.

Despins said Winnisquam was coming off a runner up finish from last year, and she was pleased to see the girls make a push to take home the win. She said her job as a coach is not only to win championships, but to also help her team build character and be valuable members of the community. Despins said this team has done just that, as they cheer for the Unified basketball games and also have a unified cheer team. She said it is important to have a community connection.

"We've always been really good and in the running, but this year was a very fun year for my kids," said Despins. "They were awesome kids. Good grades. Genuinely awesome kids."

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