Nobody was more surprised than the cheer team members when Pelican took second at state two years in a row back in 2000-2001
Cheerleading at Pelican Rapids school sporting events hit a sweet spot for a number of Viking alumni, as evidenced by a number of contacts we’ve had at the Pelican Rapids Press.
We published a couple of columns in December on the subject, including one focusing on a Pelican grad, Nick Thompson, who is currently on the North Dakota State University cheer team. We also looked back at Laura Knoll, a graduate who later became a Minnesota Viking cheerleader in the 1990s.
Cheer teams are no longer an organized activity in the Pelican schools, but several former cheerleaders contacted the Press with memories.
Among those who contacted us was Jessie Williams, who was active in the late 1990s. A Pelican cheer team actually won a couple trophies against stiff statewide competition–and Jessie would like to locate those trophies, so they can be displayed in the new gymnasium.
Another reader, Brittany Dokken, contacted us to report that Kristi (Boen) Parker cheered for NDSU and graduated from Pelican Rapids in 2003. Kathleen (Bruns) Duppler graduated in 2001 and is believed to have cheered in college.
Tori Johnson Olson cheered for University of Minnesota Morris, after graduating from Pelican in 2001.
Providing the most background was Tori, who cheered for Pelican from 1997 to 2001.
Though not a highly experienced group, the Pelican team entered state competition two years–winning second place at state high school league meets both years. Surprising success for a group of girls that hardly expected to place.
Donna Marty was the cheer coach at the time, wrote Tori.
“We didn’t have any competition experience but we loved to cheer, stunt and dance so we decided to try it,” recalled Tori.
The group practiced anywhere they could find space–mostly in the study hall “which had low ceilings so we couldn’t practice our stunts.”
They used the cafeteria, and had to come in at 6 a.m. to book practice time in the gym. Coach Marty worked hard to make sure they followed all state safety rules and requirements for a competition team.
In 2000 the team went to the state competition at Concordia College in St. Paul.
“We were competing against teams mainly from the metro area–many of which had lots of competition experience,” recalled Tori. “When it was our turn, we went out and gave it all we had… which included stunting, cheering, tumbling and dancing.”
At the end of the competition, winners were announced. “When they got to second and announced PRHS we were beyond excited… To us, we didn’t lose first place, we won second!”
The team that first year consisted of nine members. Teresa (Backman) Majerus, Kathleen (Bruns) Duppler, Kara (Mattern) Bunkowski, Melanie (Wahl) Fleming, Tracey (Soberg) Bonitatibus, Kristi (Boen) Parker, Erica (Grahn) Porter, Emily (Haugrud) Lisko, Tori (Johnson) Olson.
During the second season, 2001, the squad attended several competitions–including meets at Eastview High School and the Mall of America.
At State, the Vikings again won a second place cheer trophy.
The members of the 2001 team were Kristi (Boen) Parker, Miranda Weakened, Trista (Erickson) Yeutter, Paula (Evenson) Tollerud, Katy (Albright) Hanson, Emily (Haugrud) Lisko, Kara (Mattern) Bunkowski, Kathleen (Bruns) Duppler, Jessica (Nelson) Krogstad and Tori (Johnson) Olson.
“We were a very dedicated group of athletes who worked very hard to prove to those around us that cheerleading was a sport. Although we had earned the respect of our peers at school, the parents in the stands, and many cheer teams in the area, our trophies were never displayed in the trophy case at the high school,” wrote Tori. “When we asked about it, we were told there wasn’t any room for them.”
The missing trophies are a bit of a sore point.
“I recently attended the open house at the high school where we were able to tour the building and see the renovations that have been made. We were walking by the new gym and looked at the new (very large) trophy case where there were many trophies on display…but not our trophies… they were no where to be found.”
Tori made some inquiries, but nobody really seems to know what happened to the pair of trophies. If ever located, Tori and her teammates would love to see them on display–in the new Leaders gym for the historic record.