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September 3, 2010 > U.S. baton team gets bronze

U.S. baton team gets bronze

By Sanjna Shukla

This summer, the United States team brought home the bronze medal at the World Baton Twirling Championships which took place in Bergen, Norway, from Aug. 5 to 8. The team, which was originally based in Sacramento, is a part of the Encore Baton Club and is comprised of eight people, with one alternate.

The team was originally chosen at the U.S. Trials which took place in Tennessee. Two teams were competing for the chance to represent USA at the World Baton Championships, and in the end Encore prevailed. The team, coached by Machelle Stiehl and Kathy Forsythe, fell short to only Japan and France. For Stiehl, this was not the first time coaching a winning team as her team got gold in 2002 and 2003.

Due to the lack of popularity of baton in the U.S., the team had no practice facility. They practiced in dance studios in either Ohio or Sacramento. The twirlers on the team are from all over the country, and met up one weekend of every month to train for Worlds.

The team members are: Kristine Anderson (Florida), Alexa Bourdage (Indiana), Melissa Brandle (California), Samantha Brown (Arizona), Danielle Cobb (Virginia), Michael Harris (Ohio), Jennifer Marcus (Florida), Melissa Marcus (Florida) and Catherine Ramirez (New Jersey).

Brandle is a Fremont native and currently attends Mission San Jose High School. Brandle is the youngest one on the team at 16; Melissa Marcus is the oldest at 29. The team was the perfect balance of young energy and indispensable experience.

Jennifer Marcus has been described by Brandle as "the Michael Phelps of baton twirling." Marcus is the unofficial leader of the team, right after the coach. She is world renown and is always considered a legitimate threat to the title. Although this may be her last World Championships, the team is hoping that she will come back for the 2012 Worlds in France.

Although many people may not realize it, the World Championships are basically the Olympics for baton. It is by far the most important event and teams put in countless hours and effort to represent our country well. Despite Japan and France taking gold and silver in practically every event this year, the US is looking to change that at the next Worlds.

The eight-member team was not the only US team to win a medal, however. Brandle of Fremont and Jamie Hogan of San Jose also took home the bronze medal for the junior pair's event. The two locals have been the defending national champions in the same event for the past five years. Karissa Wimberley won the silver medal in the Senior Women's category. Senior pair Jason and Monica Lee also won a bronze in their category.

"Making the U.S. World Team, Team USA and performing in the world championships has been my big dream and goal for what seems like my whole life," Brandle said of her experience. "Training with my 2010 Team USA teammates and coaches and then attending Worlds was an incredible and fulfilling experience that I'll remember forever and will help guide me through future challenges in life."

Overall, this summer was very successful for the U.S. National Baton Twirling Team. Undoubtedly, they represented the US very well, and are looking to do the same in the future.

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