Lis Tyzo-Depaulis stood near warm-ups at nationals, surrounded by Michigan’s Coed IA cheer team. The head assistant coach was streaming the Game Day IA award ceremony on her phone, waiting to see if the other half of the Wolverines’ team would be taking home a title from the NCA & NDA Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championship.
The Game Day team was in second place after the previous day’s preliminary round, 4.45 points behind a Southern Methodist team that topped the charts with a 97.53. But a pristine routine on Friday left the squad questioning if they’d closed the gap for their first title in program history, while the Coed team huddled around Tyzo-Depaulis’ phone waiting for the announcement.
Meghan Mesojedec, a co-captain for the Coed IA team along with Deontay Walker, said it felt like it took about 30 seconds for the announcer to reveal the runner-up, which might seem like an eternity when you’re waiting on a potential national championship.
“You had to wait for the ‘s’,” Mesojedec said. “Once they said ‘Southern,’ everyone was freaking out, they were so excited that they won.”
That national title for the Game Day team, captained by Alex Bourdeau, Paige Pichel and Joey Solomon, left the Coed IA squad pumped up as they headed into their second round. They couldn’t have been more ready for their final routine in Daytona, for more reasons than one.
There are two rounds in the NCA & NDA Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championships — the preliminary and the final. In the preliminary, a fall or a bobble means a point deduction that can creep back in the final round. The past few years, that’s been the scenario for Michigan’s Coed team.
Not this year.
“This year, at prelims, the entire routine hit,” Mesojedec said. “We were able to finish it with a clean hit, and we were just so excited to go out there and do it again on Friday.”
The Wolverines posted the best score in their category on Thursday with a 97.57, edging out East Carolina. Another hit on Friday wouldn’t just mean a win in their category, either. It’d give Michigan its second national title in less than a few hours.
A flawless routine of tumbling passes, pyramids and choreography left the team celebrating louder than it had all night. It was exactly what it needed to cap off a lead over the Pirates.
The Coed squad didn’t want to presume they’d won — but there was no doubt they’d just had one of the best performances of the night.
“You don’t want to assume necessarily, because you don’t want to jinx yourself, but we — I think we did,” Mesojedec said. “We just knew we put the best routine out there that we could have, and so we were just so excited at that point to get through awards and hear where we were. We were so happy with what we put out there that we thought it couldn’t be any less than a winning routine.”
The Coed’s final score of 98.0917 earned the collective Michigan unit its second championship trophy of the night, marking a historical moment for the team. After splitting into the two categories early in the year, the squads began working on choreography and collaborating with the band and dance team to work out a Game Day routine. After the Peach Bowl, it had been full throttle, with each team practicing four days a week with lifts tacked on.
Both had been working intensely for month, and the titles were the payoff.
“It was so special for us to do this for us, and for Michigan,” Mesojedec said. “You love going to this school that you do, so to do it and to just have our school be so excited for us and our friends and other students be so excited for us — and our programs even, like the School of Information, the School of Kinesiology.
“It’s so cool to go to a school that appreciates us so much and we were so happy to win for them.”