Methuen Rangers Cheerleading '07

Methuen cheerleaders are tops

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Monday, March, 31 By Courtney Paquette
Staff writer

When Kayla Getchell, Alexa Leclerc and Amanda George graduate from Methuen High School in June, they can forever say they were members of the best team in school history.

The girls are co-captains of the school's cheerleading team. Since they joined the squad in their freshman year, along with seniors Lauren Clark and Sean Bibeau, they've taken home seven of the eight state titles they could win in fall and winter cheerleading seasons. Cheerleading is both a fall and winter sport.

No other sports team at Methuen High can boast that record, cheerleading coach Jessica Hamilton said.

"It's absolutely amazing," Getchell, 18, said. "We've done so well every season. We practice and practice. And, at competition, we've always been successful."

The five girls joined the squad in 2004, when Hamilton lost six talented seniors to graduation. She was impressed that the freshmen were able to help carry the team to the state championships both of those seasons | and win.

"It was a really big challenge," she said, but the girls gave her hope. "They were good for freshmen. They definitely have improved every year."

Since the girls have been on the team, they've lost only one state title, but the girls say they remember it as if it happened yesterday. The top of one of their stunts toppled.

"I can picture her falling down," Leclerc said.

But the girls weren't discouraged by the loss. Rather, it made them work harder, they said. And now, they're nearly impossible to beat.

Typically, cheerleading squads are lucky to have one girl on the team that can do a full | a move in which a tumbler does a full twisting back flip with a straight body. Methuen typically has nine people who can do this every season, Getchell said.

"We've always been known for our tumbling," Getchell said.

But this year, they stepped up their stunts as well. Instead of doing two like most teams, they did three. And this year, because their team was co-ed, they had two of the boys on the team hold up two of the girls by themselves.

"We do the most difficult everything we possibly can," Getchell said.

And still, they say, they have trouble getting the respect they deserve. It's even a struggle sometimes to get their accomplishments announced on the school's public address system in the morning.

"I think people underestimate everything we have to do," George said. "People who don't go to competitions don't think we can do anything."

But with the trophies of the team lining the walls of the front office at Methuen High, they said they've come a long way. And Principal Arthur Nicholson and Athletic Director Jim Weymouth attend all their competitions to support them.

"We walk around proud here," Getchell said. "We know it."

Getchell will attend either Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu or Suffolk University in Boston next year. Wherever she goes, she's planning on being part of the cheerleading team. Getchell said Bibeau may also join her at Hawaii Pacific.

For the other two cheerleading captains, their cheering career is over. Leclerc, 17, will attend pharmacy school or the University of Rhode Island, and George, 18 will go to the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Neither plans to join the team at those schools. Bibeau applied to Hawaii. Getchell said Clark is undecided about where she'll go.

But the girls are confident that with their coach at the helm, the team will continue to be successful for years to come. Hamilton had 12 freshmen join the team this year, and the seniors are confident they will carry on their winning tradition.

"A new start for Methuen," Getchell said.

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