Dumont Cheerleading Champions

Posted on 11 March 2011 | 0 Comments

Both Larry Fitzgerald and Elayne Gwardyak Hallstrom forwarded the story of the Dumont cheerleaders winning a national championship.

Times certainly have changed since our high school days when cheerleading was an athletic after thought.  This current Dumont squad is undoubtedly made up of highly skilled athletes who have received some extraordinary training.  Gone are the days of girls hurling their bodies around during practice in the marble lined halls of the school with no instruction or proper spotting and generally hoping for the best when they slammed down into a split.

Below is the story of the Dumont cheerleaders' huge accomplishment.

Dumont Cheerleaders Win National Championship
Sunday, March 6, 2011
The Record

DUMONT - The varsity competition cheerleaders are living a fairy tale.

After finishing last in the league a year ago, they not only won the Bergen County Scholastic League title this year, they went on to win a national championship last week. The girls are calling it their Cinderella story.

"No one thought we were going to do it," senior Jamie Bauer said.

The journey to the Contest of Champions in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 26 began in August when Kim Busch took over as cheerleading coach.

"What a first year," Busch said.

Busch, who teaches at Lovell J. Honiss School, started working on new stunts and routines with the girls during football season.

"I had an expectation of going to nationals in the summer," she said.

But the 19 girls on the competition team had just hoped to win something this year after several years of losses.

"In past years we would go to a competition and look at it and say, ‘We're going to lose,' " senior Olivia Bartelucci, one of the team's three captains, said.

But that changed this year when the team took home a second-place win at its first competition.

Instead of going into a competition hoping not to come in last, they went in with the attitude that second place wasn't good enough.

"We had a different perspective," Hayley Normoyle said. "We all worked together a lot better than every other year."

Seeing the dedication of the team during football season, senior Nicole Dargis, the third captain, left a private competition team she cheered with to join the school's squad and she's glad she did.

"With high school, you feel closer to your team because you're with them every day," she said. "You want it more."

Busch asked the team to set goals at the start of the season. Among them was to win the BCSL title and to take top five at the national Contest of Champions. They checked off the first goal Feb. 11.

But the girls also had their own goal, beating West Milford, a team they considered to be among the best in the area. They accomplished that Feb. 13, taking home the grand championship title at the St. Anne's Cheer Lovers Competition at Fair Lawn High School.

"After we won grand champions against West Milford, we said we won't come home with anything less than first at nationals," senior Kaitlyn Scudi said.

Even with the wins, the girls were nervous about facing teams from across the country.

The stress mounted when Bartelucci injured her hip and spent the days leading up to the competition in a wheelchair. Another teammate pulled a hamstring and several girls came down with a virus.

Busch had to tweak the routine to accommodate Bartelucci's injury and the changes came with a few minor mistakes during the performance.

"We've done so much better, we were so upset," Bartelucci said.

The girls thought they had taken second place, but another team was announced and their hearts sank for a moment until they were awarded first place.

In addition to winning the Level 3 all-female high school division, they were named Grand Champions, which means of the all-female and co-ed high school teams, recreation teams and all star competition teams in their level, they were best overall.

"It was the best moment of my life," Normoyle said.

Ironically the theme to their two-and-a-half minute routine was champions.

The girls took home a large trophy, a banner and a $1,000 check. When they arrived at the high school Sunday night, parents, football players and recreation cheerleaders where there with balloons and flowers to welcome them home.