West Grand spirit wins state title
Mustangs ‘leave it on the floor,’ come home with big, heavy trophy
The West Grand Mustangs stood outside the arena Friday when their coach emerged from 2020-21 state spirit championships carrying the Class 2A poms trophy.
Because of COVID-19, this season has been unlike any other, and all participating teams had to clear the arena after their performances. As a result, only Mustangs coach Kendra Holmes was inside when West Grand’s name was called.
It wasn’t like other years, but it still made for an amazing moment outside the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs.
“It was instant tears,” Holmes said of her team’s reaction to seeing her emerge with the team’s championship banner and trophy. “They swarmed me. It was instant tears and instant happiness.”
West Grand ventured to state with almost four dozen spectators in tow. Even though the team was outside when the victors were announced, the Mustangs learned they had won alongside their families, friends and coach. The team was so excited, they could barely hold still for the photos, their coach said.
The state title is the school’s first poms championship since 2003. To win, West Grand earned a 75.88 score, besting Hotckhiss (75.80), Sanford (73.88), Clear Creek (73.40), Lyons (73.28) and Vail Christian (72.85).
With so much uncertainty surrounding the 2020-21 season, including its school closures, quarantines and off-kilter sports schedules, Holmes said that she came into the year simply telling her girls to have fun and leave everything on the floor.
Given that the Mustangs didn’t get to participate in any camps or come together as a team over the summer, Holmes also enlisted the help of professional choreographer Jana Blue. Holmes recalled thinking that Blue’s help would be a great benefit to the Mustangs with so much in the air, and that it would expose the girls to a new experience by having them work with a true professional dancer.
“I want them to have all of the experiences they can,” Holmes said.
With that, Blue helped West Grand produce a routine to Janet Jackson’s tunes. The Mustangs tailored the moves to fit the team, and the result was Friday’s championship performance — followed by what the coach described as “overwhelming happiness and joy” outside the arena.
Going back to her experience as dancer, Holmes said that she often tells the team to leave everything they have out on the floor and to celebrate what they do. This year amid COVID-19, she’s also been telling the girls: “We will rise up.”
In a Facebook post after state, Holmes offered an update in which she asserted: “We rose up.” For the coach, it was an awesome way to sum up their atypical, super successful season. As for the trophy, that’s now on display at the high school.
“It’s big and beautiful, and heavy, and everything they deserve,” Holmes said of the Mustangs.
The nine girls on the team are seniors Tiffany-Marie Padia Luttrell (captain) and Isabella Galindo; juniors Morgan Monk, Itzel Rodriguez, Ximena Rodriguez-Ramos and Cora Farley (captain); and freshmen Wendy Eller, Eleanore Poindexter and Ashlyn Eisenman.
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