Merriebeth Cox retains Golden Girl title
Monday, April 6, 2009
Merriebeth Cox, who was representing the USA in World Twirling Championships in Belgium as solo twirler auditions were conducted on Purdue’s campus Saturday, April 4, still managed to fend off competition to retain her Golden Girl title.
The freshman from Roselle, IL, first topped all competitors as an incoming Purdue student in 2008 to become Purdue’s 27th Golden Girl. Each of Purdue’s solo twirlers – the Golden Girl, Girl in Black and Silver Twins – must attend tryouts and audition for their spot each year. Because of the honor of being selected for the USA team, Cox was granted an exemption and auditioned before she left campus on April 3.
“Each country takes their top three competitors to the Worlds so this is huge for Merriebeth and Purdue,” says Alisha Kuckartz who coaches the twirlers. Cox was a unanimous pick to retain the position of Golden Girl.
Silver Twins, Sara and Chellie Zou, easily retained their twirling positions. Competition for the Girl in Black was intense and Meg Merdian, a sophomore from Troy, MI, bested a field of four to be chosen for the position. During the past two years Merdian has performed as member of the Boilerettes Twirling Team.
“In choosing a solo twirler, we look for the total package, twirling talent as well as leadership abilities and the personal skills to serve as a good ambassador for the Purdue ‘All-American’ Marching Band and Purdue University,” said the band’s director Jay Gephart.
Gephart made the announcement late Saturday, April 4, at Elliott Hall of Music following a long day of competition that included field tryouts and personal interviews.
Members of the Purdue Bands’ faculty and staff judged the candidates and made the final selections. Judges consider twirling talent, showmanship, poise and communication skills in selecting the top positions, all of whom serve as ambassadors for Purdue University as well as entertainers.
Prior to Saturday’s competition, twirlers from across the United States were invited to submit audition DVDs in the solo twirler competition’s preliminary round. From that pool, seven women were selected to come to campus to compete for the positions.
With the move to spring solo twirler auditions several years ago, Purdue aligned itself with other major university band programs which use auditions as a tool to attract top twirling talent from across the nation to their school. All the twirling candidates had to be accepted by Purdue to audition.
Over the years Purdue’s Golden Girl has enjoyed a national reputation as one of the top twirlers in the United States. Former director Al Wright began the tradition in 1954 when quarterback Lenny Dawson was referred to by the press as Purdue’s “Golden Boy.” Wright put gold sequins on Juanita Carpenter and named her the “Golden Girl.” After Dawson graduated his nickname faded, but the Golden Girl has continued as a strong Purdue tradition.
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